Olaf Scholz still owed Ukraine an answer. In his speech to the Bundestag on March 17, 2022, its President Volodymyr Selenskyj addressed the Chancellor and confronted him with allegations that shook the Federal Republic's self-image. At that time, Scholz simply remained seated, the Bundestag went on with the agenda without a reply.
Zelenskyi said at the time: "I am writing to you on behalf of everyone who has heard politicians protest every year: 'Never again!' And who have seen that these words mean nothing. Because once again in Europe they are trying to annihilate an entire people.” The accusation was serious: Germany is breaking its promise to prevent Nazi crimes from being repeated in Europe.
In his government statement, Chancellor Olaf Scholz calls for strengthening the domestic armaments industry. This production "requires long-term contracts and down payments to build manufacturing capacity." Watch his entire speech again here.
Now Scholz answered almost directly to Selenskyj: "Our 'never again' means that Putin's imperialism must not prevail," he said in the Bundestag. "Love of peace does not mean submission," said Scholz. "If Ukraine were to stop defending itself, it wouldn't be peace, it would be the end of Ukraine." And: "You can't negotiate with a gun on your head."
The Chancellor made it clearer than ever before that supporting the victims of Putin's imperialist aggression is nothing less than the historical responsibility of the Federal Republic.
At the same time, it is telling which thoughts of the turning point speech were now missing in the one-year balance sheet. "We have to dissuade Putin from his war course," Scholz said in February 2022 and was confident that Western sanctions and the resistance of the Russian population would make the Kremlin give in. There was no more talk of either of them. According to the message, the chancellor is no longer under any illusions about Putin's Russia.
Scholz made it clear: You can only stop a violent person with violence. That's why Ukraine needs weapons, that's why the Bundeswehr needs weapons. However, Scholz had already said that a year ago - nevertheless, the arms deliveries to Ukraine were slow and only under massive pressure from the USA. At the same time, the rearmament of the Bundeswehr proceeded at a shamefully slow pace.
The Chancellor's new look at Putin can only have one consequence: a massive acceleration of the previous slow-motion turnaround. The question of time is existential - for the people in Ukraine, but also for all Germans.
Because no one should be mistaken: Only the USA can protect the Federal Republic from a potential attack by Russia. Washington is currently governed by a president who cares deeply about Europe. If that changes at the end of 2024, the endurance test for the German turning point could come.