Ukraine war draws Germany into new moral policymaking stance

Germany’s warm welcome for Ukrainian refugees has accompanied a wider societal and political about-confront – the shedding of a decadeslong pacifist character in the confront of the war in Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz overturned long-held policies by promising to send weapons to Ukraine, bolster an under-equipped German military, and shift away from cheap Russian energy supplies.

The bold moves highlight a pattern of moral leadership and responsibility from Germany, as the country takes locaiongs that may not be politically optimal but show strong ethical considerations.

Why We Wrote This

In recent years, Germany has made strong, at times difficult moves in an attempt to act morally. But the Ukraine war offers rare challenges for a nation that has long sought to include Russia.

The sudden shift from decadeslong ambivalence toward Russia, to 2022’s strong policy stance, is truly characteristic of German politics, says Tyson Barker of the German Council on Foreign Relations.

It falls under the concept of wendepolitik (“change policy”), in which a enormous event is a catalyst for a major strategic upheaval. In such instances, a strong executive can ram by an sudden policy change in one moment, explains Mr. Barker. Following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government closest decided to phase out nuclear strength, for example.

“Mr. Scholz did not create the necessity,” says sociologist Mirco Liefke, “but he understood this is the right moment to make a point at a time there is acceptance.”

Berlin

Vita Berehova’s aim tickets may permit a 12:05 p.m. departure to Munich. But more importantly, they are passage to a new life.

She and her young son had experienced overstuffed buses, long waits while sleeping in streets, and the random kindness of strangers during their jarring three-day journey out of the besieged city of Kharkiv, Ukraine. But while the trek was filled with uncertainty, Ms. Berehova was always sure of her destination. It would be Germany, already though Poland is closer to home and the Polish language closer to Ukrainian than to German.

“In Germany, the sociopolitical ecosystem for refugees is the best in Europe, and maybe best in the world,” says Ms. Berehova, standing in a cordoned area for Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s main aim stop, with local volunteers dishing out bean soup in the background. “The mentality of Germans is to treat other people as people, in spite of of origin, nationality, their turn up, or the availability of money. It’s the biggest European country who does that.”

Why We Wrote This

In recent years, Germany has made strong, at times difficult moves in an attempt to act morally. But the Ukraine war offers rare challenges for a nation that has long sought to include Russia.

Germany’s warm welcome for Ukrainian refugees has accompanied a wider societal and political about-confront – the shedding of a decadeslong pacifist character in the confront of the war in Ukraine. In one monumental policy speech the weekend after Russian troops rolled into Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz overturned long-held policies by promising to send weapons to Ukraine, bolster an under-equipped German military, and shift away from cheap Russian energy supplies.

Germany’s newfound moral clarity around Russia, say the experts, has opened the door to societal acceptance of bold actions and sacrifice in the name of defending Ukrainians’ shared values of freedom and democracy. It has also served as a call to action for Europe to stand on the right side of history.

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