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Admiral sacked for speaking sense over Ukraine

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THE head of the German navy, Kay-Achim Schönbach, has been forced to resign after making some pointed comments on Ukraine and Russia. But what did he say that was untrue

Addressing an Indian think-tank the other day, Vice-Admiral Schönbach shot holes into the warmongering narrative being pushed almost universally across the Western world. In contrast to hyped-up claims of Russian dreams of recreating the USSR, he dismissed the idea that Russia was going to embroil itself in a geopolitical fiasco to acquire a strip of Ukraine.

Far likelier, he said, is that President Putin was applying pressure on the European Union and its allies because he knows it will reveal the fundamental cracks between member states. Moreover, instead of seeking territorial aggrandisement, Schönbach asserted that what Putin was really after was respect and to be treated as an equal.

It is not hard to see what he means. Nato, despite losing its raison d’être decades ago, continues to push towards the borders of Russia. Moscow’s annoyance at a hostile military alliance moving ever closer is taken as further justification for Nato’s actions.

Putin supposedly wants a guarantee that Ukraine will not join Nato. Why not just give him it? We have nothing to gain from defending Kiev.

The argument runs that we should be helping out the Ukrainians because they’re a ‘nascent democracy’ against Russia’s authoritarianism. This seems to be a problem only in the current age, however: in two World Wars we were allied with Russias of absolute monarchical and communistic varieties.

That the government of Ukraine is squeaky clean and worth dying for seems a bit doubtful. On corruption indices the country ranks among the likes of Sierra Leone and Niger, and let us not forget that Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company which is owned by former Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Mykola Zlochevsky, kept Hunter Biden on its board (and paid him $1million per year) despite his knowing nothing of oil or gas, and speaking not a word of Ukrainian or Russian.

Perhaps most unfashionably of all, Schönbach referred to Russia as being an integral part of European civilisation, and more crucially, that we should seek common ground because it is a Christian nation. Such arguments will, naturally, not wash. The European Union refuses to recognise the continent’s Christian identity, so appealing to our shared belief system could only fall on deaf ears.

As part of a common civilisation bloc, Schönbach contested that we should get Russia on side to stand against our real geopolitical foe, China. While Russia has been antagonised and relations have deteriorated accordingly, the West has treated China with kid gloves for decades and its idiotic naivety taken advantage of accordingly. A heady cocktail of greed, myopia and cowardice has facilitated Beijing’s meteoric rise to its position today of key civilisational rival. Allowing Sino-Russian relations to grow in direct reaction to our shunning of Moscow is a long-term tactical disaster.

Another impermissible comment was that Crimea is gone and not coming back. This is unarguable. While western nations view Russia’s annexation of the Crimea through purely legalistic terms – ‘illegal annexation’ – Russians regard the peninsula as an inviolable part of Russian territory, having been founded by Catherine the Great in the 18th century. Its transfer to Ukraine in the 1950s was an error; taking it back in 2014 merely a correction for this historical wrong. You don’t have to agree with such a view, but given that war relies on the will to fight, you should bear this immovable opinion in mind.   

For alluding to such truths Schönbach was dismissed. Perhaps it is not the worst thing that could have happened to him. In charge of a navy embarrassingly out of shape, he was never likely to have much military clout: the German armed forces’ preparedness is scandalous. Given this, his words would have more power than the drydocked ships of the German navy.

It’s reassuring that there are others in positions of power watching with apprehension as the drums of war are beaten. British newspapers have whipped themselves into a frenzy with a bizarre eagerness for things to kick off in eastern Ukraine. Reading front pages cackling with excitement over the prospect of a new European conflagration, one wonders in whose benefit it is to push such insanity.

Anyone wanting war is mad. The incomparable tragedies of the last century are proof enough that Europeans should not go down that dangerous path of escalation and conflict.

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Frederick Edward
Frederick Edward
Frederick Edward is from the Midlands. You can see his Substack here.'

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