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Baerbock criticizes Lanz (ZDF): "What Putin wants, only Putin knows"

Created: 09/22/2022, 09:44 am

Außenministerin Annalena Baerbock (Grüne) zu Gast bei Markus Lanz im ZDF am 21. September 2022.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) visiting Markus Lanz on ZDF on September 21, 2022. © Screenshot ZDF

In Markus Lanz’s talk show on ZDF, Vladimir Putin and Russia’s war against Ukraine are discussed again.

Hamburg – Proposal to Markus Lanz and his editors: In future, invite each guest only twice a year and a topic may only be repeated once a quarter, then the program on ZDF will be more diverse and varied. But as it is, everything stays the same. On Wednesday evening, after almost two years of continuous Corona discussion, the talk show by the Italian-German TV presenter and film producer was again about the Ukraine war and further arms deliveries to the badly battered country. And that has been almost non-stop for seven months!

There were hardly any controversial opinions among his previously frequent studio guests – security expert Claudia Major, journalist Eva Quadbeck and sociologist Gerald Knaus – as well as the Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), who was connected by the 77th United Nations General Assembly from New York naturally questioned the point of such a round of talks.

Markus Lanz (ZDF): Foreign Minister Baerbock comments on Putin’s partial mobilization

At the beginning of the program it says ladies first: In the first 20 minutes, Markus Lanz devotes himself entirely to the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs since December 8, 2021 – as the first woman ever. He is concerned with the recent television speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, his “partial mobilization” and his postscript “This is not a bluff!” in relation to the use of nuclear weapons. Isn’t this threat a bluff, he would like to know from the native Hanoverian. Annalena Baerbock takes a moment to think about her answer before she speaks.

Presumably so as not to say anything that could be misunderstood in the tense global political situation: That’s “reading coffee grounds,” she finally tries to take the wind out of his sails, “Only Putin knows what Putin wants.” However, it is one-sided: the dictator does not want the guns to be silent. With the exception of Russia, the international community has a clear position on nuclear weapons, namely not to use them. Putin threatens a lot without putting his pithy words into action. Luckily, one would like to add!

Markus Lanz (ZDF) addresses differences of opinion between Baerbock and Scholz

In response to her statement that the next few weeks and months would be crucial, Markus Lanz repeated one of the most frequently asked questions in the cabinet: “When will we deliver the Leopard 2?” Passed on Soviet tanks to Ukraine by NATO members, who received German tanks in return – reached its “natural end”. Annalena Baerbock vehemently contradicts this: “Not true. It’s only just beginning!” Due to negotiated swaps, the Ukraine is now getting new tanks of a familiar design.

Regarding the differences of opinion between her and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), which are often suspected in the media, and which Markus Lanz is now also addressing, she does not make a quotable statement by skilfully circumnavigating the tiresome topic. And then she reiterates that the partial mobilization shows how desperate Russian President Vladimir Putin is. He grossly underestimated the Ukrainian army’s will to defend itself and the international unity: “He’s not fighting the war with tanks alone. He’s using nuclear power plants as a bargaining chip, and now he wants to wage a war on fear.”

  • Markus Lanz from September 21, 2022. The guests of the show:
  • Annalena Baerbock, Federal Foreign Minister
  • Claudia Major, security expert
  • Eva Quadbeck, journalist and editor-in-chief of the editorial network Germany
  • Gerald Knaus, sociologist, political consultant and migration researcher

Above all, Putin wants to scare people in the West, for example with the threats in connection with the “referendums”. The population in the four areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russian army are to vote on their affiliation to the occupying power in the next few days. We remember: Ukraine calls this “blackmail”, while even the Chancellor, who is so reticent about it, speaks of “sham referendums” which violate international law. Eight years ago, Russia had annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in this way.

To understand: The “referendums” would thwart the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the east of the country and achieve the goal desired by the separatists – the annexation of the areas to Russia. Putin could then interpret attempts at Ukrainian liberation as an attack on Russian territory. That is why the head of the Kremlin once again threatened to use nuclear weapons in a televised speech. But “Putin’s attempts at blackmail are not working,” the foreign minister knows about Markus Lanz. Allowing people to take part in a “referendum” at gunpoint, as it were, “would be an invitation to further violations of international law. That’s why it’s important that we stand united against it.”

Markus Lanz (ZDF): Germany must make progress with tank deliveries

And then she affirms: “We stand by the side of the country that was attacked here.” It is extremely important that as many people as possible are freed before winter. For this reason, Germany must move forward with the tank deliveries. Cutting-edge Western systems could make a difference in saving lives. They would have to be delivered very quickly. But how quickly she cannot be elicited, even after Markus Lanz has asked twice.

Afterwards, he and his studio guests analyze Annalena Baerbock’s statements and Vladimir Putin’s speech, from which several excerpts are recorded. Eva Quadbeck, the deputy editor-in-chief of the “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland” compares the different positions of the foreign minister and the chancellor with the differences of opinion between the US government’s more offensive State Department and its President Joe Biden (Democratic Party), who is more reluctant to use heavy weapons. The nuclear threat by Vladimir Putin is “a line of tradition since the beginning of the war”, but has always remained rhetorical, it is now the turn of Claudia Major from the Foundation for Science and Politics, which is co-financed with federal funds.

Markus Lanz (ZDF): European integration as a future opportunity for Ukraine

She agrees with Markus Lanz, who gallingly interjects that Germany has already crossed “one line after the other” when it comes to arms deliveries. She adds: Even the Norwegian NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Social Democratic Arbeiderpartiet, in short: Ap) “de facto gave the go” for Leopard 2 deliveries. With her sentence “The end of the war defines peace” she indicates possible reparations payments to Ukraine, the return of prisoners of war and the reconstruction of the country, whose infrastructure has been largely destroyed, and provides an alternative headline for this television criticism.

Then finally the only male studio guest, the Austrian migration researcher and political advisor Gerald Knaus, who made a significant contribution to the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey in 2016, has his say. He paints a bleak scenario for Ukraine’s near future: Hundreds of thousands of people could fall victim to the winter because, as already mentioned, Russia destroyed Ukraine’s infrastructure in its “war of attrition” and the state’s tax revenues would collapse. The cost of reconstruction could amount to around 500 billion euros. Ukraine’s only chance for the future is European integration, even if EU membership is still a long way off. And then Gerald Knaus praised almost effusively Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), President of the European Commission, for her “clever speech” last week on the situation in Ukraine and the position of the EU.

Markus Lanz (ZDF): disagreement on the subject of Ukraine and the position of the EU

For once, there was no consensus on this evening: Ursula von der Leyen should have “taken the population with her”, according to Eva Quadbeck. In fact, solidarity with Ukraine is dwindling in many countries, as the election in Sweden has shown. This is also to be feared in Italy, where the right-wing conservatives could soon come to power. Germany does not exempt them from a possible mental shift if short-time work and unemployment increase and “major deficits at all levels of government” could surface. And already there is a consensus again, because Gerald Knaus agrees with her that “no crisis of migration from Asia and Africa” is to be expected in Europe at the moment, but populists who could exploit feelings of crisis certainly do. At the end of the show, Claudia Major emphasized like a mantra how crucial western support for Ukraine is: “The war is won by those who can replenish the reserves”. She means the soldiers and weapons like tanks.

So much agreement, which is sometimes presented redundantly, seems a bit tiring long after midnight. The talk the evening before, in which Sahra Wagenknecht (Die Linke) caused a heated argument with her controversial position on arms deliveries to Ukraine and Markus Lanz angrily accused her of being “the perfect victim of Russian propaganda”, is in any case intellectual been more challenging and fun. (Marc Hairapetian)

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