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Cf. PUBLICATION:  ”Lay down your Arms” (Bertha von Suttner). The Ukraine War in the Context of European Policy and Transatlantic Interests, in: Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 6, 2022/8, 28.p.



Bertha von Suttner, 1889:

What pictures of horror out of all the battles on earth […] were brought before us tender maidens […]; and of course through this heaping up and repetition of the horrors the perception that they were horrors becomes blunted, everything which belongs to the category of war conies no longer to be regarded from the point of view of humanity, and receives a perfectly peculiar mystico-historico-political consecration. War must be – it is the source of the highest dignities and honours – that the girls see very well […].And thus originate the Spartan mothers, and the “mothers ol the colours, […].”

In: Lay down your arms! The Autobiography of Martha von Tilling by Bertha von Suttner, authorised translation by T. Holmes, 2. Ed., New York 1908, p. 4.

On International Women’s Day, March 8, one woman in particular should be remembered on the occasion of the Ukraine war, Bertha von Suttner. Growing up in the Habsburg monarchy, she wrote “Lay Down Your Arms!” as an autobiography, more than 130 years ago, which is one of the most successful books of the worldwide peace movement. In 1905, she was the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Her legacy includes the realisation that no end justifies the means of war. This is all the more true for our times, which can bring us a nuclear war of annihilation. With its independence at the end of the Cold War in 1991, Ukraine became the third largest nuclear power in the world, after the USA and Russia. The renunciation of these nuclear weapons was a negotiating success for the former opponents of the system and came with guarantees for Ukraine’s state sovereignty.

Today, many would like to turn back the wheel of history, including Kiev. A year ago, President Zelenskyy threatened nuclear rearmament if his country was not accepted into NATO. So far, these offers by the NATO leadership have not only failed because of Russia’s veto, the USA has also been reluctant to date. The same applies to EU membership, for which Kiev is now demanding an accelerated admission procedure. However, with the association agreement (2014), Brussels has not committed to this. The EU is now baffled by the fact that it only approved the agreement after Ukraine renounced a customs union with Russia. Armenia, on the other hand, successfully defended its bridging function. This analysis wants to show that Russia is breaking international law with its war in Ukraine, but that NATO and the EU are not innocent and share responsibility. 




♦   On 2.3.2022, the UN General Assembly condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. 141 of the 193 UN members voted in favour of Resolution ES-11/1, 5 voted no, and 25 countries abstained (, 2.3.2022). Russia was ordered to leave the territory of Ukraine immediately, including the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

♦  Russia’s violation of Article 2 of the UN-Charter (26.6.1945), which protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all UN members, is highly serious (, 1.3.2022). With its military operations in Ukraine, Russia is endangering world peace. The threat that Moscow has put its nuclear forces on alert was also condemned.

♦  The UN General Assembly called on conflicting parties in Donbass and Lugansk to respect the Minsk agreements (12.2.2015). Ukrainian security forces have also violated this ( According to UN sources, there were approximately 44,000 victims of violence in Donbass between 14.4.2014 and 10.2.2021, including over 13,000 deaths (, 19.2.2021).

♦  The instrument of war propaganda is currently hardly discussed. Article 20 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights calls for its prohibition as it promotes “national, racial or religious hatred” and incites violence (ICCPR 1966). In Germany, wars of aggression and war propaganda are punishable (GG, Art. 26, IALANA).  


♦   The nationality principle, which assigns a nation status to language or religious communities, led to violent border conflicts with the collapse of the Soviet Union (1989/90). They were exacerbated by internal migration, as a result of which Russian-speaking minorities now live outside Russia, in the Baltic States and in Ukraine (, 10.10.2014).

♦   Until 2008, Russia adhered to the international legal principle of the inviolability of borders. It grants autonomy to its own “national minorities” and rejected a right to independence. With the recognition of Kosovo by the EU and NATO, Moscow changed its strategy: today it supports Russian minorities abroad and in some cases also their efforts for independence.

♦   Until shortly before the start of the war (24.2.2022), Russia insisted on the Minsk agreements (12.2.2015). Kiev had promised autonomy to the Donbass and Lugansk regions. However, the education law of 5.9.2017 reduced the rights of minorities (euromaidanpress. com, 19.9.2017). Today, Russia accuses Kiev of genocide in these regions (,3.3.2022).

♦   Moscow defends its invasion as humanitarian aid. It also sees it as a response to the nuclear threat posed by NATO, which said to be stationing nuclear weapons in eastern member states (Phoenix, 3.3.2022). NATO military exercises take place annually in Ukraine (, 20.9.2021). New is Russia’s accusation that Ukraine develops biological weapons (, 8.3.2022).


♦   In Ukraine, Russia is demonstrating its role as a world power and is now catching up with the USA. Many military actions carried out by US troops for “humanitarian values” violated international law, for example in Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Here, too, it was a matter of maintaining status as a world power, as US security advisor Z. Brzesiński (1997) made public.

♦   Brzesiński writes: „Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. […] it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state […].“ (1997: 46).

♦ In the USA, the actors of the NATO-Russia Foun­ding Act (1997) and the NATO-Russia Council (2002) still dominated. It was not until the war in Georgia, which according to an EU report (2009) originated in Tbilisi, that relations deteriorated. Nevertheless, the USA hesitated with Ukraine’s NATO accession (, 15.6.2021), despite the Russian annexation of Crimea (2014).

♦ Weeks before the Ukraine war broke out, the USA warned of Russian aggression, but were not willing to give any security guarantees, such as not expanding NATO (, 17.2.2022). At the beginning of the war, they announced sanctions and military aid. Only in the case of the defence of a NATO member do they want to intervene (, 24.2.2022).


♦   Two weeks before its invasion, Moscow demanded that NATO: “[…] stop supplying arms to Ukraine, withdraw Western military advisers and trainers from its territory, stop joint exercises between the armed forces of Ukraine and NATO, and recall all weapons […] supplied to Kiev”. (, 9.2.2022)

♦   The USA had increased its “military aid” to Ukraine six-fold since 2014 (total amount: 2.7 billion US dollars). France has since delivered armaments worth 1.6 billion euros, Poland of 659 million (, 9.2.2022). Since the beginning of the war, NATO’s military aid has increased even further. In Germany, too, there is talk of increasing arms aid (, 7.3.2022).

♦   But Ukraine hardly stands a chance against the Russian army, so that such arms deliveries only add to the suffering of the population. NATO and Ukraine should bear in mind that they too could find themselves in The Hague if the Russian accusations of genocide in Donbass and Lugansk are examined as the trigger of the war (reuters. com, 27.2.2022).

♦   Finally, it gives cause for thought that NATO has been making membership offers to Ukraine since 2014. At the beginning of 2018, it was included in the “NATO Membership Action Plan” ( 11.3.2022). Only during the course of this war does the Ukrainian president have to admit that NATO is not prepared to accept his country in the next 15 years (, 8.3.2022).

NATOWarsaw Pact (until 1990)

Source: NATO vs Warsaw (1949-1990), Wikipedia, 24.3.2014.

NATO Eastern Enlargement (1990-2020

Source: History of NATO enlargement, Wikipedia, 26.1.2022.

Cf. Sabine Riedel,  ”Lay down your Arms” (Bertha von Suttner). The Ukraine War in the Context of European Policy and Transatlantic Interests, in: Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol., 2022/8, p. 9.


♦   NATO under Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has made offers to the Ukrainian government elites that are not acceptable within its member states. It also led Ukraine into the temptation of joining a military alliance that is increasingly directed against Russia. This contradicts Ukraine’s founding documents.

♦  This includes, on the one hand, its declaration of sovereignty (Müller 1998: 54), which states: “The Ukrainian SSR solemnly announces its intention to become a permanently neutral state in the future, which does not participate in military blocs and which adheres to three non-nuclear principles: not to accept, not to produce and not to acquire nuclear weapons.” (, 16.7.1990)

♦  On the other hand, this includes the accession of the former Soviet nuclear powers Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (5.12.1994, 2021). As the world’s third largest nuclear power, Kiev thus renounced possession of nuclear weapons. Today, Kiev is threatening nuclear armament if it refuses to join NATO (, 15.4.2021).

♦   Kiev justifies this with the breach of the Budapest Memorandum (1994) through the annexation of Crimea (18.3.2014). The USA, Great Britain and Russia recognised Ukraine’s sovereignty in return for the renunciation of nuclear weapons. Moscow defends itself by saying that the EU had previously put Kiev under pressure in order to tie Ukraine to itself economically (, 2013).


♦  The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had negotiated the EU Association Agreement (30.3.2012, bpb, 6.6.2012). But Brussels hesitated with its implementation: it demanded that Kiev release opposition leader Yulia Tymoshen­ko, who was accused of corruption, and renounce the customs union with Russia (, 14.10.2013, Bosko 2013).

♦   Brussels signed the agreement with Ukraine after the regime change (22.2.2014), which was supported by the USA (, 7.2.2014, Telepolis, 21.11.2016). Despite the lack of reforms (fighting corrections, human rights situation in Donbass,, 11.2.2021), President Zelenskyj is currently calling for immediate EU accession (, 28.2.2022).   

♦  Moldova and Georgia also want to join the EU (, 3.3.2022,, 7.3.2022), although the association agreements with the former Soviet republics contain no promise of accession. It would have been wiser if Brussels had allowed them economic cooperation with Russia. Only Armenia was able to get its way with the EU. (Minasyan 2015). 

♦  The EU has not only remained ambiguous with regard to Ukraine’s accession. Its positions are contradictory in relation to other separatist movements in Europe. While the EU institutions support Ukraine’s central government, the European group Greens/EFA sides with separatists in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland …  (, 25.1.2022).  


♦  NATO’s eastward expansion contradicts the promise made to Russia at the Two Plus Four talks German reunification (welt. de, 18.2.2022) not to station any weapons aimed at Russia in Eastern Europe (, 15.2.2022). Within the framework of NATO and the EU, Germany shares responsibility for today’s development and should change its course now.

♦  For the first time, a woman heads the German Foreign Ministry, which advocates a stronger integration of women “in the sense of a feminist foreign policy” (Koalitionsvertrag: 144). However, the first female German ambassador to the USA openly supports NATO membership for Ukraine (, 17.2.2022). This is the opposite of the announced crisis prevention.

♦   Listening, examining and negotiating are feminist virtues, the opposite of mistrust, prejudice and polarisation. That is what is currently missing in the German debate. The media offer a forum above all to those men who would even accept a nuclear war in Europe and humiliate Germany, despite its great willingness to help (, 10.3.2022).

♦   The Russian proposal for a collective security system is rational and convincing. Above all, however, it goes back to German initiators, to Egon Bahr, whose 100th birthday is celebrated on 18 March. His slogan Change through rapprochement” (1963) laid the foundation for a new German Eastern policy, without which there would have been no revolutions in Eastern Europe.



Sabine Riedel, ”Lay down your Arms” (Bertha von Suttner). The Ukraine War in the Context of European Policy and Transatlantic Interests, in: Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 6, 2022/8, 28 p.

abine Riedel, Ukraine in Conflict of National Identity. The Rights of the Russian-speaking Population were and remain essential for Peace, Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 6, 2022/5, 28 p.

Sabine Riedel, The Catalan Separatism: Uncompromising but “pro-European”, Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 5, 2021/9, 16 pages.

Sabine Riedel, Readjusting and Refocusing Germany’s European Policy, in: Günther Maihold, Stefan Mair, Melanie Müller, Judith Vorrath, Christian Wagner (eds.), German Foreign Policy in Transition. Volatile Conditions, New Momentum, SWP Research Paper 1o, December 2021, Berlin, S. 99-102.

Sabine Riedel, Bosnien-Herzegovinas Powersharing-Modell in der Krise. Wege in einen funktionierenden Bundesstaat, Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 3, 2019/11, 12 pages; Nachdruck aus: Jahrbuch des Föderalismus 2017 des Europäischen Zentrums für Föderalismus-Forschung Tübingen (Hg.), Baden-Baden 2017, S. 419-435.

Sabine Riedel, Streit um nationale Identitäten. Der Separatismus zielt auf eine „kulturelle“ Neuordnung Europas, in: Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Vol. 28/2018, Forum, 12.07.2018.

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