Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has spoken out in favor of a trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the International Criminal Court in The Hague in view of the alleged war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
“Everyone who is responsible for these crimes will have to justify themselves,” he emphasized to the “Spiegel”. In addition to soldiers and military commanders, this included “of course also those who bear political responsibility”.
The pictures from Bucha are horrible and almost unbearable, Steinmeier continues: “They condense once again what Russia’s criminal attack on Ukraine means, what suffering and death it brings, including expulsion. It makes me incredibly angry and sad.”
In view of Germany’s increased dependence on Russian gas, he emphasized: “One lesson from this is that the foreign policy philosophy that change takes place through trade does not hold up when dealing with autocracies.” Now you have to “work up exactly where we made mistakes”. That affects “generations of politicians. I expressly include myself.”
Steinmeier acknowledged that his own attitude towards Putin and the Kremlin had fundamentally changed since February 24: “In fact, I used to think that Moscow might be afraid of NATO expansion. Today I know: Russia is afraid of the spread of democracy, of the longing for freedom and justice. The attack on Ukraine, the denial of its statehood, the murders and the suffering that a thousand times over – that is a definitive turning point. And also a turning point. It has become visible through the coming together of the entire West, through the solidarity between Europe and the USA, the determination of the EU on the sanctions, the clear answers from NATO.”
Austrian politicians have so far refrained from admitting guilt. Ex-Federal President Heinz Fischer stated that he did not want to have such a discussion. Ex-Chancellor Wolfgang Bowl is also silent.