Is Western support for Ukraine beginning to crack? At Maybrit Illner, the guests argue about ways to end the war. It's about "riding on the razor blade", false hopes and a "fatal external effect". There is by no means a consensus.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck speaks of "strangles" in the sanctions against Russia. In a similar way, the ZDF talk show at Maybrit Illner on Thursday evening wrestled with the question of which ways would be the right ones for a victory in Kiev. Cracks in the facade of the consensus on Ukraine become visible in the talk show. Cracks that are also reflected in the different views and approaches of the western powers.
Green politician Habeck does not take part in the discussion, hostess Illner only connects him from Berlin at the beginning. Despite the recent Hungarian debacle, the Federal Minister of Economics praises the sanctions because "the Russian economy has been badly hit and economic power has collapsed." Russia's imports have fallen by half and "Putin may have money, but he can buy less and less of it." That will soon become even more noticeable. But Habeck also sees weapons as an important factor in Ukraine's victory and at this point he immediately praises the further deliveries of heavy material decided on the previous days: "It's not just used scrap that we're sending there," he says , the heavy weapons "can really do something". Ultimately, however, it would simply be important "that everyone agrees that Ukraine will set the war goal and not lose the war," said the Vice Chancellor.
But it is precisely when it comes to understanding that there is a problem. In the talk show as well as in general with the supporters of Ukraine. Roderich Kiesewetter repeats his criticism of Olaf Scholz of the past few days that the Chancellor does not want Ukraine to win the war. The CDU foreign policy expert denounces that the federal government must send heavy weapons "directly to Ukraine" without exchanging rings, and that the chancellor must both clearly state that he supports the January borders and assure the country of candidate status for the EU. "The external effect is fatal," he says, because Scholz would not be able to meet these points.
"Only the Ukrainians decide," replies Kevin Kühnert, completely in line with the government's line regarding the war goal. The first thing to do is to prevent the Donbass from falling completely to Russia. "Our weapons should create equality there and put up a stop sign," says the SPD general secretary. ZDF international reporter Katrin Eigendorf also warns: "We shouldn't persuade Ukraine to enter into a half-hearted peace." Vladimir Putin not only declared war on Ukraine, but on the West. What is happening in Ukraine is "a war of annihilation, it is no longer about taking and controlling areas". That's why there can't be "a safe world with a strong Putin," said Eigendorf.
Johannes Varwick sees it differently. Larger cracks become visible and the mood in the talk show heats up when it is the turn of the Professor of International Relations and European Politics. He pleads for "soberness and realism", one should take a close look at what is still achievable in the current situation and with what means one can help the country. "By supplying weapons, we're making the war longer and bloodier," he says. That would "lead Ukraine into a hopeless fight," says Kiesewetter, and warns: "What we're doing is riding on a razor blade."
The international relations expert believes that Moscow will realistically achieve some goals and has a greater ability to escalate. But more and more weapons from the West led "at some point to an escalation with Russia" and Moscow could eventually escalate to nuclear. "Our current path has not been successful so far and will end in disaster," warns Varwick. Instead, a political solution should be found. For example, Ukraine could become a neutral state that is not oriented towards the western camp. Kühnert counters: "But over the years, the Ukrainian people have turned more and more to the West," and that shouldn't simply be ignored.
"We're giving Ukraine false hope," Varwick said. Before the war and now. His solution? A "bitter and perhaps dirty" reconciliation of interests with Russia, but that doesn't mean sacrificing Ukraine. "Freezing the situation is the order of the day", otherwise Ukraine would be lost. In his opinion, such a reconciliation of interests should have taken place before February 24 in order to prevent war. This is driving Eigendorf crazy. "What should it have looked like?" the journalist asks irritably. According to the professor, one should have accepted the Ukraine as a special case and promised that the country would not orient itself any further west. "So you're denying sovereignty to a state," Eigendorf fumes.
Next, Varwick offends at Kiesewetter. "Russia is sitting in the corner, we can't step on it," the international relations expert renews his call for a political solution. "Ukraine is sitting in the corner," the CDU security expert pamps back. Varwick hopes, however, that Chancellor Scholz will push through a similar view "behind the scenes" and, together with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, will take "a different line" than that of the US, Great Britain and Eastern European countries.
Cracks in the consensus of Ukraine supporters not only revealed the struggle over the EU's oil embargo. The fact that unity is crumbling is also shown by the various corners in which the Western powers are positioning themselves: Great Britain, Poland and the Baltic states, who are demanding a clear defeat of Moscow without any compromises over Ukrainian territory, on the one hand; Germany, France and Italy in the other. In fact, Macron said in May, similar to Varwick's words, that one should not "humiliate" Russia. Scholz's phone calls with Putin also show that the chancellor still sees the conflict as a political one and not just a military one.
The talk show at Maybrit Illner that evening no longer found a solution as to which of the calls for more weapons or for more appeasement policies could bring about an end to the violence. In any case, the different points of view make it clear that this war will no longer be viewed and treated as uniformly as before. That will also have a big impact on his outcome. More nagging "strangle" debates, such as sanctions, lie ahead.