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Annalena Baerbock in a fighting mood: Taking no prisoners when it comes to war with Russia. Facebook

German FM ‘accidentally’ declares war on Russia, riles Africa

The “accidental” declaration of war on Russia by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green Party) has stirred up the political classes. Moscow sees evidence that the EU states are "direct warring parties" and the Kremlin has demanded an explanation.

Published: January 29, 2023, 6:54 am

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    There is growing surprise in Russia over a brazen statement by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) about a “war against Russia”. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Friday demanded an explanation from the German ambassador in Moscow about “contradictory” statements from Berlin.

    On the one hand, Germany has declared that it was not a party to the conflict in Ukraine. On the other hand, Baerbock recently announced that the countries of Europe were at war with Russia. “Do you understand what you are talking about?” Zakharova wanted to know on the Telegram news channel.

    Baerbock had called on Tuesday at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg for the cohesion of the western allies with the following words: “We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.” The Russian state media took up this statement as proof that Germany and the other EU countries are direct conflict parties in Ukraine and are fighting against Russia.

    The German government has been careful to emphasize that it is not a party to the war in Ukraine. On Wednesday evening on ZDF, Chancellor Olaf Scholz answered the question of whether Germany and its allies were taking part in the war with the tank deliveries that had now been decided: “No, absolutely not.” He added: “There must be no war between Russia and NATO.”

    After Baerbock ‘s statements, the German Foreign Office also made it clear that Germany was “not a party to the conflict” with the chancellor distancing himself from the Green politician.

    ‘Extremely unfortunate slip of the tongue’

    After the promise to deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, Germany is increasingly criticized for using heavy weapons against Russian soldiers for the first time since World War II. The security expert Claudia Major from the Science and Politics Foundation spoke on Friday in the ZDF Morgenmagazin about an “extremely unfortunate slip of the tongue” by Baerbock.

    More and more voices in Germany are calling for the resignation of Baerbock. After her war declaration in Strasbourg, the CSU sees her as a “security risk for our country”.

    CSU General Secretary Martin Huber said: “Annalena Baerbock is a massive security risk for our country.” Anyone who talks about German participation in the war is talking Germany into a war.

    AfD co-boss Tino Chrupalla also called for Baerbock’s dismissal. “The Federal Foreign Minister is jeopardizing Germany’s existence with her unprofessional and cheeky behavior,” he said, according to a statement. There was also harsh criticism of Baerbock and her statements on social networks.

    Lapses are not uncommon for the German foreign minister. For example, she spoke of “tank battles” in the 19th century, and of countries that are hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, as FWM previously reported. However, such mistakes become explosive when they have far-reaching consequences for the security of a country.

    Deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann on Friday in Berlin said: “We support Ukraine, but we are not at war.” But it is evidently becoming more and more difficult to explain the delivery of more heavy weapons to Russia’s adversary on the battlefield.

    Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, on a recent visit to fellow BRICS member South Africa, noted at a press briefing that Moscow was “almost” at war with the West. “When we speak about what is happening in Ukraine – it is a war, not a hybrid one, almost a real war, that the West has been plotting for a long time against Russia.

    “The goal is to destroy everything Russian, from language to culture, that has been in Ukraine for centuries and to prohibit people from speaking their mother tongue.”

    ‘Feminist foreign policy’

    Germany’s “feminist foreign policy” under Baerbock seems to produce a new faux pas almost every day. After she casually declared war on Russia on Tuesday before the European Council in Strasbourg, she proceeded to the next blunder with a Twitter statement.

    In Africa in particular, the outrage was palpable. On the occasion was Lavrov’s visit, Baerbock’s ministry tweeted: “Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is in Africa not to see leopards (emoji), but to bluntly claim that Ukraine’s partners ‘want to destroy everything Russian’.”

    The day before, Germany had promised that it would send 14 of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

    The tweet was also made in reference to Lavrov’s allegations in South Africa that the West is waging a war against Russia in Ukraine. Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for African Union (AU) leader Moussa Faki, wanted to know from the German Foreign Office on Twitter if they also came “to see animals” when Baerbock visited the Ethiopia-based AU headquarters this month. “Or is the Continent of Africa, its people and wildlife just a joke to you?” Kalondo asked.

    Zainab Usman, director of the US Africa Carnegie program, tweeted: “Using terrible stereotypes… to score a geopolitical upper cut to an adversary in a European war will not win you any African friends. Tone deaf! Do better!”

    Other commenters called the tweet a “diplomatic fiasco.” The January 24 tweet was seen nearly two million times, shared nearly 2 700 times and commented on more than 600 times as of Thursday morning. The PR disaster forced Baerbock’s office to issue an apology.

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