Bundestag MP: Germany is not a place for draft evaders from Russia

Member of the German Bundestag, representative the Christian Democratic Union Roderich Kiesewetter is in favour of a visa ban for Russians and against granting asylum to those who evade mobilisation for the war against Ukraine. He said this in an interview with DW.

DW: Mr Kiesewetter, you insist on a visa ban for Russians, a ban on issuing them tourist visas to visit Germany. Do you want to punish all Russians for the war that Russia is waging against Ukraine?

R.K.: The majority of the Russian population supports Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. And Putin is using visa opportunities to exert influence, to send agents of influence, and to allow Russian oligarchs to support him outside the Russian Federation.
And that is why it is so important to conduct very strict checks in each individual case and to stop the practice of issuing visas in general. Russia is at war with the global legal order. The population of Russia, especially Russians, overwhelmingly support this terrible war. And so it is unacceptable to show tolerance in this regard,” Kiesewetter said.

DW: But even now young Russians of military age face difficulties if they want to visit their sister, brother or friends in Germany. The German embassy refuses them visas, fearing that they will abuse their Schengen visa to try to avoid mobilisation by applying for asylum in Germany. Do you think this practice is correct?

R.K.: Absolutely correct. After all, Germany has clearly taken the side of Ukraine and we do not want any conflicts to arise within our country. Let those Russians who want to seek asylum apply for it in countries that stand by Russia, not in the countries of the Tallinn Initiative [Estonia, the United Kingdom, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Slovakia] or in countries that, together with Germany and France, provide massive assistance to Ukraine. We do not want our domestic political situation to worsen. In addition, we need a clear signal to the Russian population that such an attitude towards Ukraine and the global legal order is unacceptable, and that the right to asylum cannot be applied in this case.

DW: But by doing so, Germany is also closing the door to those Russians who actively oppose the Putin regime. After all, there is a humanitarian visa programme for such people. But in this case, it will be difficult for them to get to Germany.

R.K.: They don’t have to go to Germany at all. In addition, they are provided with sufficient support in Georgia, Turkey, as well as in Finland, the United Kingdom and Canada. It should be borne in mind that, apart from Poland, Germany has taken in the largest number of refugees from Ukraine – more than a million. We are ready to accept more. And we do not want the aggressiveness that is already partially felt to spread to other segments of society.
In addition, we need a signal, including to moderate Russians. Hundreds of thousands have fled the country, not all out of disagreement with Putin, many out of convenience. It is particularly appalling that Russia’s ethnic minorities are taking part in this war against Ukraine. Residents of St. Petersburg and Moscow have been evading mobilisation for a long time.
We want to show Russians, especially ethnic Russians, that this is also a fascist war, ethnically humiliating to the national minorities in Russia itself, who are paying the highest price in this terrible war with their blood.

DW: But isn’t it in the interests of the countries, including Germany, that are helping Ukraine to ensure that as few Russian citizens as possible go to this war, to avoid mobilisation? After all, every Russian who does not go to this war benefits the countries that support Ukraine. Am I wrong?

R.K.: You are right. But we should also remind them of the very difficult social circumstances in Russia itself and encourage these young people to unite for civil resistance rather than leave their compatriots to fend for themselves. What kind of civic stance is it when you evade conscription and at the same time the opportunity to organise resistance in Russia itself and simply emigrate comfortably to the West?
And it is even worse to see the wives of Russian oligarchs flanking the shopping streets of Berlin and Paris, spending money taken from the poor Russian population in fashionable boutiques while their husbands are responsible for the war against Ukraine. I repeat. We need a clear signal to moderate Russians to make it clear that they have a different task than leaving the country. By doing so, they are only making Putin’s job easier.

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