Even if Russia's president does not allow his troops to march into Ukraine, he has crossed borders. The sanctions against him should be implemented.
So if Vladimir Putin's troops don't invade Ukraine this Wednesday, as predicted by the American secret services, will everything be fine again? What if they don't invade in the next few days, if they don't invade at all, but return to their barracks from the Ukrainian border? Is everything okay then?
No, then nothing is good. It is true that there is no element of coercion in international law. But the principle of the general prohibition of violence applies, enshrined in Article Two, Section Four of the UN Charter. This ban on violence includes not only the use, but also the threat of violence. Otto Luchterhand, emeritus professor of international law at the University of Hamburg, comes to the conclusion in an as yet unpublished analysis: "The threat of the use of military force, i.e. the encirclement of Ukraine by Russian armed forces, violates international law."
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So if Russia has broken international law by threatening to use force, then Europeans and Americans shouldn't just let the prepared sanctions disappear in a drawer.
Return to business as usual?
Putin has terrified an entire continent and threatened it with military violence. He tried to blackmail Ukraine and NATO with his troop deployment. He has shared his rape fantasies with the world: "Whether you like it or not, you will have to submit, my beauty," Putin said in an interview with French President Emmanuel Macron.
This applied to Ukraine in the event that the government in Kiev did not implement the Minsk agreements on the future of eastern Ukraine as Putin envisioned. His actions are a single political and moral impertinence.
But a great many people who are interested in it will say: Of course everything is fine now. In his conversation with Olaf Scholz, Putin relied on dialogue. He wants to talk about confidence-building measures. And the first units pull away from the border. It is time, many will argue, to get back to business as usual.
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As planned, the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations will meet with the Russian President for the annual meeting. Gerhard Schröder will take up his fourth well-paid position in the Russian energy industry, this time on the Gazprom supervisory board. The Russian oligarchs will again host receptions in their London townhouses. Maybe they will also acquire one or the other football club. And the long-awaited gas will finally flow to Germany from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
This is what interested parties want. And that's how it can happen. But many people watching all of this will feel a little odd. You may ask: should the sanctions planned by the West in the event of an invasion really only come into force if the Ukrainian border is crossed? Hasn't Putin long since overstepped the bounds of civilized interaction between nations?
Driven solely by paranoia
Yes, he has. And that is why the sanctions plans should be implemented – not in full, of course, but to the appropriate extent. In the midst of deep peace, unthreatened by anyone, driven solely by his paranoia, Vladimir Putin brought Europe to the brink of war.
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Should he be rewarded for possibly untying the "noose around Ukraine's neck", as Frank-Walter Steinmeier has demanded ? You don't put a noose around the neck of a person or a country. Even if you don't close them in the end, the threat of suffocation remains a vile act. But if Putin tightens the noose after all? If, contrary to what he has now said, he orders his forces to attack? Then what was said applies anyway and requires no further justification.
In any case, there can be no return to the agenda. Therefore, no gas should flow through Nord Stream 2 any time soon. And because the troop deployment can repeat itself at any time, it is correct that in future there will be more NATO soldiers in Eastern Europe than before. Besides, it will be a deterrent if Ukraine has a well-equipped army that can better defend its country than it does today. Putin has rarely acted wisely and in Russia's interests. That's why he remains dangerous.
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