It's been a few days since Sahra Wagenknecht (Die Linke) called the federal government "the stupidest government in Europe". Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) also got his fat off: Unfortunately, the economy is not like it is in politics, said Wagenknecht: “A minister who no longer delivers does not have to file for bankruptcy. You are the best example of this.” According to Wagenknecht, the biggest problem is the “terrific idea of starting an unprecedented economic war against our most important energy supplier” via sanctions against Russia. The speech made waves and still causes resentment to this day – even within the Left Party.
Exactly in this style, Wagenknecht continued on ZDF with Markus Lanz on Tuesday evening. The show is mainly about Wagenknecht and her attitude towards Russia. The other two guests, the journalist for the "Rheinische Post" Kerstin Münstermann and the adviser to the imprisoned Kremlin critic Navalny, Leonid Volkov, hardly get a word in the group. The main part of the speech is clearly with Wagenknecht and Lanz, who keeps trying to corner the left-wing politician.
"Are you still in the Left Party?", the moderator begins the entry into the talk round. Of course she is, Wagenknecht replies and smiles. “There is of course still freedom of mandate. The motion against me, which was a bit strange, was withdrawn because it did not find the appropriate support.” The debate about her speech revealed that people in Germany had difficulties discussing rationally.
According to the left-wing politician, much of what is said about her was taken out of context. The moderator doesn't let that sit on him and fades in an excerpt of the speech in the Bundestag. “End the fatal economic sanctions. Let's negotiate with Russia about resuming gas supplies," the group of four said. Münstermann, Volkow and Lanz shake their heads.
"The war in Ukraine is a crime, but the economic sanctions are aimed more at us than at Russia," Wagenknecht then tries to clarify her point of view. That hardly provides any relief. The politician takes a step back to argue. It seems as if she wants to create a common foundation from which a rational discussion can grow.
“We agree on one point: the people in Ukraine suffer the most because they are dying and there is a terrible war. But I don't see the sanctions making any relevant contribution. On the contrary. Putin has more income than before,” said Wagenknecht. Gazprom is making record profits because Germany is importing far less, but the sanctions have caused prices to rise so much that the Russian state is benefiting.
"Don't we have to do everything we can to ensure that they earn less?" the moderator replies. "You can see that the sanctions are not working," Wagenknecht said. "Maybe the sanctions are just badly done," Lanz said directly. "But we're talking about those who are there," Wagenknecht ended the exchange of blows.
This is where Münstermann intervened. "But Putin shut off the pipeline," she says to Wagenknecht. "We have not responded to other wars that violate international law with sanctions," she replies. "That's not an argument," Lanz Münstermann comes to the rescue. "Putin reacted to the sanctions and turned off the gas tap," is Wagenknecht's reply.
Münstermann would like to know from Wagenknecht what the alternative is. “We are not helping Ukraine by ruining our economy. We help by taking in refugees, providing humanitarian aid and supporting reconstruction. We need more initiatives for a peace plan,” the politician replies to the journalist. And afterwards: "A peace plan cannot be based on someone like Zelenskyj saying, 'We won't talk until the last Russian has left Crimea'."
"They always turn it around," Lanz reacts. He leans forward in the direction of Wagenknecht. "The buck goes to the president of the country attacked." Lanz criticizes: "It sounds like: Putin started this war, but what we are doing is also war." That is a pacifist logic that doesn't work at that point . Wagenknecht replies: "If I kill people because I use weapons, that's a different category than if I'm waging an economic war. Nevertheless, an economic war is not wise because it harms us.”
"Would you continue to deliver weapons to the Ukraine?" Lanz asked Wagenknecht. No, she thinks the delivery of heavy weapons is a mistake. “Would you connect Nord Stream 2 to the grid?” the hail of questions continues. "I would negotiate with Russia to resume gas supplies and hear what the terms are."
It's quiet for a moment. Then the moderator leans back. "I appreciate you very much, Ms. Wagenknecht, and above all your journalistic work. But I have a problem with the sentence you said to Robert Habeck.” Wagenknecht had told the Economics Minister that he did not have the right to destroy the modest prosperity and future of millions of people, most of whom would not have voted for him. "It's a blatant reversal of logic. There's only one person who ruins prosperity and the future, and that's Putin," says Lanz.
"Putin does not have the power to destroy prosperity in Germany," is Wagenknecht's direct reaction. "You pretend to be more naive than you are," accuses the left-wing moderator. "When you hear that the AFD applauds you when you talk like that, don't you have to say: It's a bit tragic that the first victim of Russian propaganda is a clever woman like you? And the second victim equally Timo Chrupalla? You are both the perfect victim of Russian propaganda.”
"Now you're making a fairly cheap polemic," Wagenknecht replies and smiles. Germany cannot afford to buy raw materials and energy only in flawless democracies. "That would be nice, certainly, but also our economic end." Two years ago, Azerbaijan started a war against Armenia that violated international law and expanded its borders. "Nevertheless, Azerbaijan will be our new gas buddy." Double standards according to Wagenknecht. "We need a certain level of pragmatism, which does not mean that we support wars."