Peace for Eukraine

Niemeyer (left) with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov


by Ralph T. Niemeyer

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blames the US for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Today they would act in a similar way as Hitler and Napoleon once did.

Sergey Lavrov is right about the analysis of the outbreak of the war. I went even further, up until December 1991, when in the last official interview he gave as President of the USSR, I asked Mikhail Gorbachev what was to be done with the 15 million ethnic Russian people that would wake up the next morning in states they didn’t really want to be a citizen of. Gorbachev regretted that he had tried to settle it but that after CNN filmed Yeltsin on a tank in August 1991, he ran out of time.

He hadn’t had any power since June 1991, when the IMF and G7 had indicated to him that Yeltsin would now be supported because of his refusal to open the Soviet market unconditionally and immediately. Gorbachev told me that he had been badly disappointed by the West.

Niemeyer (left) with the last USSR-President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in December 1991

Crimea had declared itself independent in a referendum in January 1991, Ukraine only in the following summer, but then simply stole Crimea again, although it had always been Russian since Catherine the Great and had only completely illegally “been given away” by Nikita Khrushchev to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine.


The right of peoples to self-determination is at least as noble as the inviolability of a state’s borders, even though these have been constantly pushed back and forth over the centuries and millennia, especially in Europe.

It goes without saying that holding a referendum wherever a population would like to go, as can be seen from the example of the German federal state the Saarland, but it must take place with the consent of the states concerned, otherwise it is contrary to international law. France had agreed at the time, as had the Federal Republic of Germany administration.

In the present case, Russia cannot simply claim that the independent republics in the Donbass are now Russian state territory, because otherwise other populations might also come up with the idea of joining other states and that could also mean problems for Russia. The covetousness of Poland and China should not be ignored, or what if the people of Kaliningrad were asked if they perhaps wanted to belong to Germany instead of Russia?!

A good example how different cultures can live peacefully under one statehood with another is Switzerland, the country of direct democracy, neutrality and four languages. It is surrounded by four EU member states but nevertheless has open borders and easy customs proceedings.

Why same doesn’t work for Northern Ireland after BREXIT, is inexplicable, but in case of Ukraine it is clear that the EU had waved with a red carrot all those decades in direction of Ukraine offering an EU association agreement that was totally incompatible with the Russian – Belorussian – Ukrainian customs-free-zone that had been established well before. It has been one of the reasons for the present military conflict that the EU didn’t pay attention to those details that forced Ukrainians to decide between either the EU or Russia instead of creating a swiss-like situation.

In the end, the status of the Donbass republics must also be negotiated. As in other cases, e.g. Southern Tyrol, Corsica, Lesotho, Kwa-Zulu – Natal etc., there can be the greatest possible self-government and autonomy. If Russia is then offered security guarantees from the West and honest cooperation, as once agreed with Mr. Gorbachev, then peace and freedom will also be possible for all Ukrainians.

As Germans, we have a moral, historical obligation to work for every form of peace and to oppose all forms of violence, but not to become part of a warring party by supplying arms. Create peace without weapons!

Ralph T. Niemeyer, former editor in chief, presently serves as chairman of Deutschlandkongress, the council for constitution and sovereignity for Germany


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