Ukraine conflict: Klingbeil defends SPD course towards Russia

Status: 01/31/2022 10:23 a.m

The SPD still does not agree on which course it should take towards Russia. Now co-boss Klingbeil has rejected the accusation that the party was divided on the issue. Further sanctions are not off the table, he emphasized in the ARD.

SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil has once again defended the position of his party and Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Ukraine conflict. “It’s absolutely clear to us: We’re experiencing an escalation that’s coming from Russia,” said Klingbeil ARD morning magazine when asked whether there were any differences between his party and the traffic light government.

“When the Chancellor stands up and says that all options are on the table should Russia attack Ukraine’s territorial integrity, then that is clear and unequivocal,” he added, referring to possible sanctions. “This is a clear announcement against Russia.”

Lars Klingbeil, federal chairman of the SPD, on how the SPD deals with Russia

Morning magazine, January 31, 2022

“Scholz has full support”

Klingbeil referred to a dual approach of determination and dialogue. It’s about “having as many talks as possible and looking for diplomatic channels” to prevent an escalation, said the SPD leader. “I don’t want us now, through threats, through actions, to get into a situation in which suddenly – perhaps unintentionally – a war situation arises in the middle of Europe.”

It is right that Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) are now leading the way in order to develop diplomatic initiatives from the heart of Europe. “Scholz has full support there.” The government acts as one.

Conflict between party currents

The federal government led by the SPD has come under increasing international criticism for its actions in the Ukraine crisis. Germany is accused of not putting enough pressure on Russia during the crisis. Chancellor Scholz had hesitated for a long time before putting the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the table as a sanctions instrument in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine – and that only in a cryptic way.

Against this background, top representatives of the SPD are discussing the different attitudes in the party towards Russia today. The Ukraine crisis recently made the conflict between different party currents in the SPD clear again. While representatives of the left wing of the party continue to rely on relaxation, more conservative Social Democrats are calling for a tougher approach to Moscow.

In this context, Klingbeil also reacted to controversial statements by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), who had accused Ukraine of saber-rattling. “Many can express themselves, but we as the current SPD leadership make decisions together with Chancellor Scholz.”

Heusgen for German arms deliveries

The SPD co-boss had already before ARD-Interview refused arms deliveries to Ukraine. The future head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, spoke in favor of this. The federal government is making it too easy for itself with its no with reference to the German arms control rules, he told the “Rheinische Post” and the Bonn “General-Anzeiger”.

The former foreign policy advisor to then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also advocated putting Nord Stream 2 on hold in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine.

The US and its allies accuse Russia of massing more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. The West is concerned that Russia is preparing to invade the neighboring country after annexing Crimea in 2014. The Kremlin denies any plans to attack, but at the same time argues that it feels threatened by Ukraine and NATO.

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