We German peace movement supporters are compelled to address the citizens of Russia with this letter by an event that we cannot stay indifferent to. We are referring to NATO's large-scale military exercises "Defender Europe 2020" to take place next to the Russian borders but temporarily halted over the coronavirus pandemic.
Many Germans regard these maneuvers as a blatant provocation against Russia. Their purpose is to drive a wedge between Russia and Europe, prevent the establishment of good-neighborly relations between our countries, and increase the already existing tension.
We are struck by the unprecedented scale of NATO's military activity. The largest post-Cold War exercise in Europe should involve 37 000 people, of whom 20 000 have been transferred from the United States. Heavy military equipment is being drawn up across the Atlantic and across the entire European continent to the Russian borders. What is all that but a demonstration of the West's military advantage over Russia, a tryout of ways to deliver combat units and formations to the Eastern flank of NATO?
It is especially difficult for us Germans to realize that it is through our country that the key military units and weapons are being sent to Russia, and it is the Bundeswehr that mobilizes the second largest contingent of troops among the NATO countries to the East. Notably, this happens in a situation where the Russian side shows no signs of planning any military activity against its European neighbors.
Conducting exercises has been suspended today, but we fear a downtime, after which the maneuvers may be resumed at the earliest possible juncture. To completely eliminate stridency against Russia, many political realities need to be reconsidered, and we don't see yet that the US-operated North Atlantic Alliance is ready for this.
And the very time for the boisterous NATO drills has not been chosen by chance. The world is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism. The Soviet Union lost 27 million citizens in the World War II. And now its former allies – the United States, Britain, and France – along with Germany and other NATO members are brushing up on their combat skills against Russia. The question is what feelings but indignation can Russian citizens have during the victory celebrations, imagining that westwards across the border one can once again hear German soldiers talk? Isn't this a provocation?
It is important for us Germans that Russia knows: we are opposed to any warfare. Activists of the anti-war movement in Germany condemn all kind of provocations against the country that saved the world from fascism, and rail against attempts to falsify history. Together with the citizens of Russia, we bow our heads to the victims and promise to take pains and prevent a recurrence of such tragedies in the future.
We often think back to 1990 and utter the message of the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany: only peace should come from the German soil in the future. This entitles us to demand the following from the German government:
- to stop the confrontation with Russia, to withdraw Germany from NATO maneuvers near the Russian borders;
- develop a "new Eastern policy", to establish good neighborly and mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia in our common European home.
We started the sign-in on March 7 this year, when preparations for NATO drills were still in full swing. The letter was signed by several thousand people. The number of our activists grew with every passing day. In Berlin and throughout Germany, initiative groups sprang up along the transport routes used for the movement of troops, that quickly established communication with each other. We held demonstrations of protest and informed our fellow citizens about the aggressive policy of NATO countries. We will actively use this experience if the maneuvers resume.
We see Russia as our good neighbor, and in these May days we would like to send our greetings and gratitude to its citizens on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of liberation from fascism!