US uses Russia-Ukraine conflict to gain the upper hand over Europe:German MP
Published: Feb 21, 2024 06:58 PM
Thousands of people gather during a demonstration held at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate, calling for peace negotiations with Russia in the Ukraine war on February 25, 2023 in Germany. Photo: VCG

Thousands of people gather during a demonstration held at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate, calling for peace negotiations with Russia in the Ukraine war on February 25, 2023 in Germany. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

February 24 marks the anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has been ongoing for two years with no end in sight. Why can't the conflict be resolved? As it continues, has the West's mentality of "defeating Russia" evolved? How does the conflict impact global geopolitical patterns? As the two-year anniversary approaches, the Global Times (GT) collected views within the US and Europe.  

In the second interview of the series, Sevim Dagdelen (Dagdelen), a member of the German Bundestag since 2005 and a member of Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht, shared her insights. As a long-serving member in the Foreign Affairs Committee and prominent critic of US imperialism and NATO, she is committed to peace and diplomacy and advocates for an independent and sovereign civilian European foreign policy.

GT: The Russia-Ukraine conflict is entering its third year. Why do you think it cannot be ended?

Dagdelen: The US administration clearly continues to show no interest in a ceasefire or in a diplomatic solution. The torpedoing of the Istanbul peace agreement of spring 2022 by the then UK prime minister Boris Johnson on behalf of the US is continuing to make itself felt. What is new is that the German government is pushing ever more strongly to substitute the massive US military and financial assistance for Ukraine as the House of Representatives is currently blocked in the US. At the beginning of the war, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated that the objective was to "ruin Russia" through economic and proxy warfare. That appears to be truer than ever. The German government's dangerous overconfidence seems to be contributing to the fact that there is no promising approach to putting an end to the war.

GT: Recently, many European countries have been talking about "war" with Russia. Why? 

Dagdelen: The political support on the part of the populations in Europe is indeed dwindling, not least because the social costs of the gifts of weapons supplied to Ukraine and the extreme arms build-up are continuing to rise. In contrast, we are currently witnessing veritable war hysteria among the political class in Germany and Europe, who keep talking about a war against Russia and calling for rearmament, making this an extremely dangerous situation. Moreover, fresh provocations are being orchestrated with the fascist policy of expelling Russians from the Baltic states. This is giving rise to a highly explosive situation. Such warmongering is going hand in hand with hubris and the revival of German concepts of being the protecting power of Eastern Europe, the likes of which were seen at the end of the World War I.

GT: The Russia-Ukraine conflict is depleting European weapons inventories, and the latest official data shows that US arms exports hit a new high in 2023, making US arms dealers the biggest beneficiaries. What did Europe lose from the war? Are voices within Europe that call for reorientation of the transatlantic alliance becoming louder?

Dagdelen: The biggest beneficiaries of the war in Ukraine are the US arms companies and US corporations as a whole. The US is using the war to gain the upper hand over Europe while at the same time improving the balance sheets of its defence and energy companies. Alongside Ukraine, Europe has thus become the loser of the war. Nevertheless, Europe's political elites have shown no sign of changing course to date. On the contrary, they are seeking their own salvation by deepening their vassal relationship with the US still further and seeking to bear the brunt of the proxy war against Russia. As data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy shows, by mid of January 2024, EU countries and EU institutions have already pledged 144.1 billion euro in aid, more than twice as much as the US, which pledged 67.7 billion euros. What is more, Europe has also overtaken the US in terms of military aid pledged. While the US have pledged 42.2 billion euros, the pledged military aid of all European countries amounts to 62.4 billion euros. Germany's involvement in Israel's proxy war in the Middle East is also being stepped up. In Germany, the Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht has been founded, a new left-wing party that opposes arms deliveries to Ukraine and the self-destructive economic war against Russia, seeking political relations with the US on an equal footing. 

Sevim Dagdelen Photo:Courtesy of Dagdelen

Sevim Dagdelen Photo:Courtesy of Dagdelen

GT: EU leaders have approved a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) plan to support Ukraine for the next four years. Why didn't Europe reduce its losses as soon as it could?

Dagdelen: Ukraine is a bottomless pit for the EU. The Heads of State and Government are banking on a victory in the proxy war against Russia with the 50 billion euro, which is partly financed by war loans. In my view, this is unrealistic or, to put it another way, completely crazy. The EU is acting like a roulette player here, increasing the stakes as the losses mount, only able to bet all or nothing. This increases the risk of an expansion of the war and direct involvement in the conflict. It is interesting to note that the EU claims to be targeting Russia, but is actually targeting China. After all, even if China is not involved in the Ukraine war, the overarching goal is ostensibly to deter emerging economies in order to defend one's own hegemony, which is in decline. All in all, this is a highly dangerous and unrealistic concept.

GT: What do you think of the prospects of a ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2024? What factors can contribute to a ceasefire?

Dagdelen: A deepening of the social crisis in the EU member states owing to the arms build-up and unilateral dependency on the US could lead to a rethink, but also to further escalation. This remains to be seen. Fresh diplomatic initiatives seeking an unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine are certainly needed. We must hope that Western heads of state and government will see reason and realize that this war must come to an end. Europe would be well advised to play a proactive role here instead of waiting as a vassal for the US alone to decide on the continuation of this war on European soil. What is worrying, however, is that these people are steadily increasing the stakes in the war and now it is almost impossible to withdraw without losing face.

GT: NATO recently kicked off its largest military drills since the Cold War, with its eye fixated on Russia. Some think it marks the return of the Cold War. What's your view?

Dagdelen: The situation is doubtlessly even more dangerous than during the Cold War. NATO is a warfare alliance with global ambitions. Just as it has been pushing forward right up to Russia's borders since 1994, it is now also trying to expand in Asia, through bilateral pacts of aggression against China, together with South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Australia, and also by strengthening military cooperation with the countries in the region. NATO is thus developing into a major threat to world peace in the 21st century. The all-dominant power in NATO is invariably the US, which uses this organization for its own interests, even though it attempts to give such interests a multilateral veneer. NATO's military expenditure exceeds that of Russia many times over. It must have been all the more shocking for NATO headquarters in Brussels when it proved impossible to achieve a victory in Ukraine despite the massive military aid provided. Also, in this context the dangerous thing are the panic reactions that are now calling for a material and territorial expansion of the war. This is certainly the greatest challenge of our time. A global balance of interests is needed as an alternative to an imperialist Western system of rule that is clearly in an existential crisis. An alliance between the working class in the West and the Global South is important in this regard. We must certainly tackle the myths of NATO to this end. 

After all, NATO is not a defense alliance since it is committed to war and expansion, for example in Afghanistan. Nor is it committed to democracy, as can be seen from the massive financial and military aid for Israel provided by NATO countries. And, last but not least, it has nothing whatsoever to do with human rights, as can be seen from the fate of the journalist Julian Assange, who is being held in a British maximum-security prison awaiting extradition and faces 175 years in prison in the US for publicizing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.