By Invitation | European security
应邀参加 | 欧洲安全

Olaf Scholz on why Vladimir Putin’s brutal imperialism will fail

Germany’s chancellor says Europe needs more military muscle

Illustration: Dan Williams

EARLIER THIS month, outside the small Lithuanian town of Pabradė, alongside Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nausėda, I witnessed German Boxer tanks roaring over a sandy plain. Less than 10km from the border with Belarus, deafening mortar shells were being fired. Bushes and trees were cast in thick layers of smoke. And yet the contrast could not have been greater compared to the time when Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched into Lithuania 83 years ago and turned that country and the other states of Central and Eastern Europe into “bloodlands”—a term aptly coined by Timothy Snyder, a historian. This time, German troops came in peace, to defend freedom and to deter an imperialist aggressor together with their Lithuanian allies.
本月早些时候,在立陶宛小城帕布拉代外,我与立陶宛总统吉塔纳斯-瑙塞达一起目睹了德国拳击手坦克在沙地平原上咆哮。在距离白俄罗斯边境不到 10 公里的地方,震耳欲聋的迫击炮弹正在发射。灌木丛和树木笼罩在厚厚的烟雾中。然而,与 83 年前阿道夫-希特勒的德国国防军开进立陶宛,将该国和中东欧其他国家变成 "血腥之地"--这是历史学家蒂莫西-斯奈德(Timothy Snyder)恰如其分地创造的一个词--相比,当时的情况反差再大不过了。这一次,德国军队带着和平而来,与他们的立陶宛盟友一起捍卫自由,威慑帝国主义侵略者。

It is at moments like this that you realise how far Europe has come. Former foes have become allies. We have torn down the walls and iron curtains that separated us. For decades, we even managed to banish war between our peoples to the history books. Because we all adhered to a few fundamental principles: never again must borders be changed by force. The sovereignty of all states, large and small, has to be respected. None of us should ever have to live in fear of our neighbours again.

By attacking and invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has shattered every single one of these principles. I called this assault on Europe’s peace order a Zeitenwende, a historic turning-point. Even in his public statements, Mr Putin leaves no doubt about his motivations: he wants to restore an imperial Russia, first by subjugating Ukraine and Belarus into puppet states. Nobody, except—perhaps—Mr Putin himself, knows where and when this ruthless pursuit of imperialism might end. But we all know that he has no qualms about turning yet another country into a bloodland.
通过进攻和入侵乌克兰,弗拉基米尔-普京粉碎了所有这些原则。我把这次对欧洲和平秩序的攻击称为 Zeitenwende,即历史性的转折点。即使在公开声明中,普京先生也毫无疑问地表明了他的动机:他想恢复一个帝国俄罗斯,首先将乌克兰和白俄罗斯征服为傀儡国家。也许除了普京本人,没有人知道这种对帝国主义的无情追逐何时何地会结束。但我们都知道,他毫不犹豫地要把另一个国家变成血腥之地。

And yet, Mr Putin’s brutal imperialism will not succeed. Today, the European Union and its members are by far Ukraine’s biggest financial and economic supporters. Germany alone has already committed €28bn ($30bn) in military assistance, second only to the United States. But we must not forget that Mr Putin is in this for the long haul. He believes that democracies like ours will not be able to sustain supporting Ukraine for what might be years to come.
然而,普京先生残暴的帝国主义是不会得逞的。如今,欧盟及其成员国是乌克兰最大的财政和经济支持者。仅德国就已承诺提供 280 亿欧元(300 亿美元)的军事援助,仅次于美国。但我们绝不能忘记,普京先生的目的是长远的。他认为,像我们这样的民主国家将无法在未来数年内持续支持乌克兰。

Proving Mr Putin wrong starts at home—by maintaining broad public support for Ukraine. This means explaining, again and again, that assisting Ukraine is an indispensable investment into our own security. It also means addressing the concerns of those who are afraid that the war might spread. That is why it is important to be crystal clear that NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia—and that we will not do anything that could turn us into a direct party to this conflict. So far, this strategy has kept support in Germany high; in fact, it keeps increasing. So Mr Putin should take it seriously when we tell him that Germany will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

The most fundamental promise any government owes its citizens is to provide for their safety and security, in all of its dimensions. Without security, everything else is nothing. In Germany, we changed our constitution to establish a €100bn fund in order to rebuild and modernise our army. Our goal is to turn the Bundeswehr into Europe’s strongest conventional force. As of this year, and in the future, we will be spending 2% of GDP on defence. For the first time since the second world war, we will permanently station a full combat brigade outside Germany—in Lithuania. The soldiers we saw in Pabradė are only the vanguard. And we will contribute a German division in higher readiness to NATO, as well as other significant air and maritime assets. These are unprecedented, tectonic shifts in Germany’s security and defence policy.
任何政府对其公民最基本的承诺就是为他们提供全方位的安全保障。没有安全,其他一切都是空谈。在德国,我们修改了宪法,设立了一个 1 000 亿欧元的基金,以重建我们的军队并使之现代化。我们的目标是将联邦国防军打造成欧洲最强大的常规部队。从今年起,我们将把国内生产总值的 2% 用于国防。自第二次世界大战以来,我们将首次在德国境外的立陶宛长期驻扎一个完整的作战旅。我们在帕布拉代看到的士兵只是先头部队。我们还将向北约派遣一个处于更高战备状态的德国师,以及其他重要的空中和海上资产。这些都是德国安全与防务政策前所未有的结构性转变。

And we are not alone. Sweden and Finland joined NATO, making the alliance even stronger. Many allies now honour NATO’s 2% pledge on defence spending. What I witnessed in Pabradė holds true across all of Europe: NATO allies and European partners are standing together, closer than ever before.
我们并不孤单。瑞典和芬兰加入了北约,使北约更加强大。现在,许多盟国都履行了北约关于国防开支 2% 的承诺。我在帕布拉代看到的情况在整个欧洲都是真实的:北约盟国和欧洲伙伴站在一起,比以往任何时候都更加紧密。

For decades, NATO has been the ultimate guarantor of peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area. It still is and must continue to be so in the future.

Europeans can and will have to contribute more to the transatlantic burden-sharing. This is true regardless of the outcome of the US presidential elections in November. I therefore support President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to have a conversation about the future defence of Europe. I said earlier this year that we must strengthen the European pillar of NATO—and we must strengthen the European pillar of our deterrence. To be clear, there will not be any “EU nuclear weapons”—that is simply unrealistic. There is also no intention to question the sovereignty of the French dissuasion nucléaire. At the same time, I welcome the fact that the French president emphasised the European dimension of the French force de frappe.
欧洲人可以而且必须为跨大西洋的责任分担做出更大贡献。无论 11 月美国总统选举的结果如何,这都是事实。因此,我支持埃马纽埃尔-马克龙总统关于就欧洲未来防务进行对话的提议。我在今年早些时候说过,我们必须加强欧洲的国防支柱,我们必须加强欧洲的威慑支柱。明确地说,不会有任何 "欧盟核武器"--那根本不现实。我们也无意质疑法国核劝阻组织的主权。同时,我欢迎法国总统强调法国核力量的欧洲层面。

We need to discuss how to get the right mix of capabilities to defend Europe and to deter any aggressor—today and in the future. In addition to nuclear deterrents, we are looking at strong conventional forces, air and missile defence, as well as cyber, space and deep-precision strike capabilities. We are investing in these areas together with our allies and partners, thus also strengthening our European defence industries to meet the challenges emerging from the Zeitenwende.

Given how close our countries in Europe are, given the values and interests we all share, I cannot think of any possible scenario in which the vital interests of one of us are threatened without the vital interest of Germany being threatened as well. This is the strongest foundation that NATO’s European pillar could possibly have. It reinforces the message shared by all allies, on both sides of the Atlantic: an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. Nobody should ever dare to attack a single inch of the alliance, as we will defend it together. Whoever dismisses this as lip service should look at what we are doing on the ground. Pabradė might be a good place to start looking.

Olaf Scholz is the chancellor of Germany.

Read the guest essay by Friedrich Merz, the German opposition leader, responding to Emmanuel Macron’s proposals on Europe.
阅读德国反对党领袖弗里德里希-梅尔兹(Friedrich Merz)针对埃马纽埃尔-马克龙关于欧洲的提议发表的特邀文章。

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