The gruesome images from Bucha are shocking. But how many more massacred Ukrainian civilians will it take before the West and NATO say enough? The West's constant fear of escalation makes things easy for Putin.
BERLIN — Dead bodies in the streets. Civilians, tied up and executed, left half-buried. There is no adequate description for the images from Bucha except: horror. They are crimes against humanity for which Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible.
Thus, the sudden burst of joy of Ukrainians seeing Russian troops withdrawing from the region around Kyiv last weekend was painfully brief. Now it is clear what Putin means when he speaks of the "liberation" of the population from a "Nazi regime."
German politics, meanwhile, is practicing consternation — nothing new on the Western front either. "The images from Bucha shock me, they shock us deeply," declared German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Srebrenica moment?
Everyone from German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agree that sanctions against Russia must now be tightened and those responsible held accountable.
Is this really all that can be done?
Both are important, but they are not enough. Looking at the push for a gas and oil embargo, or the miserable record of the promised German arms exports that were never actually delivered, one can't help but wonder: Is this really all that can be done?
Some have long spoken of the "Srebrenica moment": 30 years ago, the Srebrenica massacre during the war in Yugoslavia triggered NATO's intervention against Serbia. Now comparing one historical circumstance with another is always skewed; history does not repeat itself.
Yet the question is how many massacred civilians, how many rapes and half-buried women's corpses it will take before the West says: no more. The constant fear of escalation makes things easy for Putin. Hesitation is the opposite of determination, and that is exactly what is needed for successful deterrence.
People with signs saying ''NATO & EU Cowards'' and ''Close sky over Ukraine'' at a rally in front of the White House
Scholz's bogus Zeitenwende rearmament
The euphoria surrounding the so-called "Zeitenwende" or turnaround in German foreign policy, with the promise by Scholz to rearm Germany, quickly fizzled out. Germany, it seems, is condemned to sleepwalking. One failure follows the next.
Meeting NATO's target of spending 2% of the country's GDP on defense and equipping the Bundeswehr with a special fund should be a matter of course. The same applies to the decision to finally supply weapons to Ukraine, contrary to years of naive pacifist doctrine. But only defensive weapons, if you please. And not even that is going right, with weapons shipments stalled for weeks.
So while Putin is given enough time to prepare for the next sanctions and people argue about whether it would be acceptable to implement an oil and gas embargo against Russia, one crucial option is left out. It can no longer be taboo to think about NATO's military intervention. Not to attack Russia, but to defend Ukraine and the freedom it stands for.
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