Scholz and the Russian agents

A neologism in the Ukrainian language, “Scholz” is a verb meaning to continually promise something without ever having any intention of doing it, writes Evgenii Dainov.

Evgenii Dainov is a Bulgarian academic, author, and political commentator.

In politics, illogical actions usually have two explanations: silliness or conspiracy. Which of the two explains the phenomenon to “Scholz”?

Months ago, the German chancellor committed to providing Ukraine with powerful weapons to push the Russian invaders out of its occupied territory. And yet, most recently and scandalously, Mr. Scholz did not contribute to the “Ramstein format” meeting of Western countries on military assistance to Kyiv. 

Chancellor Scholz doesn’t even try to come up with plausible-sounding justifications anymore, like “the landers are against providing heavy weapons” or “the manufacturers need more time.” He has responded by blaming the Americans when pressed to defend himself over the last few days.

The fact that he won’t even allow other nations with German tanks, like the Poles, to transport them to Ukraine in time to fend off the impending Russian invasion makes few serious people today believe in him.

However, not only Germans exhibit such perplexing behavioral patterns. The absurd recommendation that the West begins talks with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the “Normandy model,” the same format that, under the leadership of Angela Merkel, helped Putin get ready for all-out war, was made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez just before the Ramstein meeting.

Silliness or conspiracy?

Even if, in these situations, stupidity usually applies, the Germans, in particular, seem especially prone to collaborating with the Kremlin. East European politicians have long grumbled about the “Schröderization” of German foreign policy since one ex-chancellor, one ex-head of Deutsche Bank, and numerous other former senior German officials now work for Russian businesses. 

The phrase is attributed to former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who supported building with Russia the North Stream 2 gas pipeline while in government before serving as the Kremlin’s representative as its director after leaving office.

Any active political action against Russia or in support of Ukraine tends to drown in a kind of swamp not long after being declared, as any casual spectator of German events will have by now noticed.

By analogy, one can observe how this operates in nations like Bulgaria, with a long history of Russian spies infiltrating every level of decision-making from top to bottom. In this arrangement, every directive that originates at the top and is opposed to Russia’s interests encounters growing resistance as it goes down the chain of command before dissipating before it is put into action. 

It is not improbable that Germany has implemented a similar scheme. After all, the appeasement strategy known as Ostpolitik, which Chancellor Willy Brandt began implementing in 1969, has given the Kremlin a half-century to do this.

In the end, ignorance alone cannot account for Schröder’s efforts to assist the Russians in bypassing Ukraine with the help of the North Stream, Merkel’s over ten-year nurturing of Vladimir Putin, or Scholz’s inability to justify his refusal to provide Ukraine with the heavy weapons it needs to defeat the Russian invaders. 

And when ignorance alone cannot explain something, we are forced to apply “Occam’s razor” backward. We must “multiply essences” or include an additional set of justifications. In this situation, we must presume that numerous Russian spies are operating within the German establishment, thwarting efforts to aid Ukraine in winning the war.

Political will, adequately engaged, may, of course, defeat the majority of conspiracies. Let’s use Bulgaria as an illustration once more. We recently learned that this nation, which is rife with Russian agents and their local allies, was able to save Ukraine in the first vital weeks of the conflict by providing it with fuel and heavy weapons clandestinely. 

Despite the Russian agents’ influence in the government and the presence of two pro-Russian parties in the coalition at the time, this was orchestrated by the then-prime minister Kiril Petkov.

Can Scholz do the same if he so chooses? Of course, he can. There is no possible world in which Olaf Scholz cannot outperform Kiril Petkov of Bulgaria. Said political will or backbone is all that is required.

However, stupidity should not be understated in any understanding of Western attitudes toward Russia. Take the most straightforward illustration.

Why did Western nations recently agree to give Ukraine defensive weaponry, meaning weapons that guaranteed resistance rather than victory? The solution is embarrassingly simple. The Western countries believed that Putin would give up when faced with opposition on the battlefield and the effects of sanctions on his economy. He would reconsider. Oh, shucks, he would say that didn’t work out and then “return to the negotiating table.”

Any East European over 45 could have informed Western decision-makers that this was utter foolishness if they had asked them.

Said such thinking is not compatible with the Russian imperial psyche. Putin would keep throwing more and more bodies at the Ukrainians until they ultimately found themselves suffocating under mountains of corpses in a country where human life is cheaper than just about anything else. 

When he had accomplished his clearly stated goal of forcing NATO back to “its 1997 frontiers,” he would do the same to the former Warsaw Pact nations if the Western forces had interviewed any East European over the age of 45, the man-made this declaration before the conflict, for the love of God.

That level of stupidity has passed. The West has realized that defeating Putin unequivocally on the Ukrainian battlefield is the only way to stop him. However, to achieve this, they need also to take strong measures against the network of Russian agents that continues to operate within the democratic nations in Europe, notably the largest of them, Germany.

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