One year after Chancellor Olaf Scholz's (SPD) speech about the turn of the century, former Polish Foreign and Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski laments Germany's lack of leadership in supporting Ukraine.
Even if the federal government has done a lot for the country attacked by Russia, financially and militarily, the prevailing perception among the allies is "that Germany only does what is necessary at the last moment, only under pressure from outside," said the liberal-conservative politician, who sits in the European Parliament for the opposition party PO, the German Press Agency.
And that gives the impression "that they don't have the issue under control, that there is reluctance that Germany shows no leadership in responding to the crisis".
According to Sikorski, announcements not implemented
Scholz's so-called "time change" speech in the Bundestag is this Monday. In it, the Chancellor announced a reorientation of German security policy as a consequence of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Sikorski speaks of a courageous and resolute speech. However, not enough of the announcements were implemented. "If you announce spending 100 billion on defense, I would expect more of that money to be spent by today."
In 2011, as Polish foreign minister during the financial crisis, Sikorski said in a widely acclaimed speech in Berlin that he feared a powerful Germany less than German inaction. The sentence is still quoted again and again today when it comes to the desire of Eastern European allies for a stronger leadership role for Germany.
"It's at the expense of Germany's reputation abroad"
Sikorski identifies domestic political reasons for the chancellor's hesitant approach in view of the war. "I think he's trying to take his voters along at the pace they are willing to accept. But that pace can't keep up with the pace of events in Ukraine, and that's at the expense of Germany's reputation abroad. "
Germany has supported Ukraine with arms sales worth almost 2.6 billion euros since the beginning of the war. According to the federal government, German aid for Ukraine – including humanitarian and financial services – totals 14 billion euros. According to statistics from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany is in third place behind the USA and Great Britain.
When it comes to military aid, Poland also performs better in absolute terms. In terms of economic power, Germany only ranks 18th among the 30 NATO countries.