Letter: Energy independence is a German moral imperative

To suggest as Constanze Stelzenmueller does, that Germany has a “special responsibility to stop Putin’s evil” (Opinion, April 25) would be a distraction for several reasons.

First, each country in Europe and the rest of the world has the responsibility to stand up against the unjustified invasion of a sovereign country; the violation of human rights in Ukraine by Russia needs to be condemned and requires decisive punitive action by all countries.

To single out a country, for whatever reason, as having special responsibility to defend freedom and democratic standards risks dividing a united front of all countries in support of Ukraine.

Second, is a country that for many years failed to reach the defence spending levels required by Nato really ready to assume this special responsibility? It will take years before the additional budgetary resources, recently approved by parliament, will translate into larger and more modern weapons systems.

Third, Germany’s federal structure often results in slow decision-making. The fact the current coalition consists of three parties with different policies further complicates consensus building. But to discuss such matters now strikes me as holding debates about developing better methods to prevent fires in the future when the house is already engulfed in flames.

The task now is for the government and politicians of all parties to assist Ukraine with material and financial support in any way possible, and take the lead in bringing Ukraine into the EU.

And importantly, politicians should explain to German business leaders and private consumers in no uncertain terms that a drastic reduction of oil and gas imports and achieving energy independence from Russia as soon as possible is a moral imperative that outweighs the negative consequences of a possible economic downturn or temporary recession.

Ulrich Hewer
Washington, DC, US