RIHO TERRAS Real threat: Leading parties in Austria and Germany might extend a helping hand to Putin

Riho Terras
, member of the European Parliament (European People’s Party/Isamaa)
Riho Terras.
Riho Terras. Photo: Erakogu
  • Maintaining the unity of support for Ukraine will be critical in the coming months.
  • Ukraine is fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

In recent days, very disturbing messages have emerged from Austria and Germany, clearly confirming that Russian influence and infiltration into political life is significant in both countries, Isamaa MEP Riho Terras writes.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) known for its pro-Russian stance, is linked to the infliltration of Russian intelligence into Austria's special services. The Freedom Party is currently in government and has risen to become the most popular party in the country. After the upcoming parliamentary elections, Herbert Kickl, considered partly responsible for discrediting Austria's counterintelligence activities, might become Austria's chancellor.

Equally troubling is the statement from Kevin Kühnert, the secretary general of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), suggesting their course is to freeze the conflict in Ukraine and, in doing so, extend a helping hand to Putin.

This statement reflects a deeply ingrained Russophilia that keeps resurfacing, providing continuous proof that the mentality of Austria’s far-right and Germany’s social democrats remains inclined towards cozying up to and making deals with Putin. This is part of their political DNA and should serve as a serious wake-up call against the backdrop of efforts to rally support behind Ukraine.

Decisive summit

Recently, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an appeal from the ruins of a bombed-out printing house in Kharkiv, urging the global public to support Ukraine in its fight against the aggressor. He specifically called on US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to attend the Ukraine peace summit on June 15–16 in Switzerland.

The summit, based on Ukraine's so-called ten-point plan, has been attempted to convene before. The organizers aim to bring together 160 delegations, including various international formats such as the G7, G20, BRICS, and organizations like the EU, UN, and OSCE.

For Ukraine, the primary motivation for organizing the summit is to consolidate international support and aid behind its peace plan. The main question is whether Russia will succeed in splitting the international community and convincing several global players to stay away from the summit. There have already been talks that China and Brazil, both BRICS countries, wish to convene an alternative peace conference. Russia has not been officially invited to the summit, as they have opposed its organization.

It is crucial for the West to show unity and participate at the highest level, which makes it disturbing to hear that President Biden is likely to be involved in election campaign events in California at the same time.

Ukraine faces an extremely difficult and complicated summer

In addition to its tiring manpower, Ukrainians are struggling with restrictions on the use of Western weaponry and continued ammunition shortages. Ukraine is fighting with one hand tied behind its back while trying to consolidate gradually eroding global support.

The European Union and its member states have a duty to contribute to the success of the summit – more efficient diplomatic efforts are needed to involve the so-called Global South in supporting Ukraine. Additionally, there must be a stronger push to increase defense spending and intensify defense industry efforts.

It is quite likely that the incumbent Polish foreign minister will become a leading candidate for the newly created position of defense commissioner.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, the Polish foreign minister pointed out his country spending 4 percent of its GDP on national defense, and urged other European countries to follow suit. Radoslaw Sikorski also emphasized the need for long-term contracts with defense industry companies to provide them with sufficient confidence for increasing production.

Moreover, he supports lifting the restrictions on the weapons given to Ukraine, allowing them to target areas on Russian Federation territory. It is quite likely that the incumbent Polish foreign minister will become a leading candidate for the newly created position of defense commissioner. This would be very beneficial for Estonia, as Sikorski is a like-minded ally who knows and understands security and defense issues very well.

Maintaining the unity of support for Ukraine is critical in the coming months. Energetic leadership is needed, and the Baltic states, together with Poland, the Nordic countries, and other similarly oriented states, should pursue this vigorously. It is important that policies supporting Ukraine’s victory are implemented and not undermined by Russian influence.