Hans-Georg Maassen, who from 2012-18 was president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security agency, has warned that the country is “sleepwalking” into a direct military confrontation with Russia by delivering weapons to Ukraine.
Appearing on TV Berlin’s ‘Special’ program last Wednesday, Maassen said he opposes any delivery of German weapons to Ukraine, citing an earlier decision by the International Court of Justice which, according to the former official, ruled that the supply of weapons to one of the warring parties in a conflict makes the supplier a party to the conflict, too.
“From my point of view, when we deliver weapons, not helmets, not bandages, it means that we are automatically running the risk of becoming a party to a war,” Maassen argued.
We are now a warring party on Ukraine’s side. Let that sink in: We are a warring party. Against Russia.
The former official also said he was terrified by the lack of public discussion on this issue.
According to him, by continuing the weapons deliveries to Ukraine, Germany could become a target for Russian attacks without having any clear objectives of its own, unlike Ukraine itself, or Russia, or the US.
The former intelligence chief went on to argue that, contrary to what the German media says, “Ukraine is not a bastion of human rights, of freedom, peace and Western values.” He also called on the German leadership to consider why they are exposing the country to the “danger of a nuclear conflict.”
Germany has around 119 American military installations on its soil, according to Maassen, which could be targeted by Moscow in case of war. He went on to liken Germany to an American “aircraft carrier with approximately 80 million natives” living aboard.
The ex-intelligence chief also called into question the functionality of Germany’s own civil defense and armed forces in case of war, while arguing that German society is not mentally prepared for a war, as the country has not had any experience of the hardships it brings in many decades. On top of that, according to Maassen, deeper confrontation with Russia would be unwise for Berlin, as Germany is dependent on Russian gas imports, and does not produce enough wheat and fertilizers.
Nevertheless, Germany is putting its own security on the line by arming Ukraine, the former official said.
Like a somnambulist, we are sleepwalking here into a conflict.
With no clear objectives or plan of action, it is anyone’s guess how this will end for Germany, Maassen added.
In late February, days after Russia attacked Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Berlin would provide Kiev with man-portable anti-aircraft, as well as anti-tank missiles. According to media reports, citing unnamed Ukrainian officials, Berlin has also provided the Eastern European nation with 100 machine guns, 100,000 hand grenades, 2,000 mines, and over 16 million rounds of ammunition.
As the conflict progressed, the Ukrainian leadership called on its Western allies to ship heavy weapons, too. Berlin eventually gave the green light for the delivery of Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, with the Defense Ministry pledging to dispatch the first 15 vehicles in July.
Scholz has also promised to donate seven self-propelled 155-mm Howitzers 2000; however, according to DW, the hardware would first have to be made operational, meaning Kiev will probably not receive them until summer.
Berlin has also approved a deal for Krauss-Maffei Wegmann manufacturer to deliver several dozen Leopard 1 tanks. The delivery, however, is apparently in limbo, with media reports citing a lack of ammunition and spare parts.
Senior Ukrainian officials, including the ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, have repeatedly criticized the leadership in Berlin, claiming the German government is dragging its feet on the delivery of heavy weaponry. Kiev is urging its ally to hand over the Leopard 1 tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles as soon as possible.