- 2 March 2015
Public Program | "Strong Europe: America's Contribution in Times of Russia's New Geopolitics"
Lt. General Ben Hodges, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Europe, was our guest at a discussion with our cooperation partner Deutschlandradio Kultur. Together with the moderator Burkhard Birke, he debated on the topic of: “Strong Europe: America’s Contribution in Times of Russia’s New Geopolitics.”
Hodges said Putin has two objectives regarding the Ukraine crisis: to prevent the integration of Eastern European countries into the EU and NATO, and to divide NATO. To stop Russia’s unlawful geo-political maneuverings, Hodges stressed the importance of cooperation among Western countries to isolate Russia from the international community. He emphasized the importance of NATO cooperation in accordance with the Wales Summit, said that the EU should keep up its economic sanctions, and urged that the West support Ukraine financially. He strongly criticized the Russian move to change the border of a European country by force as a violation of previously shared values.
While the Crimea Crisis and the following war in eastern Ukraine are often referred to as a “war of propaganda”, information is only one of the four elements of power, together with diplomacy, military, and economic measures. Putin is challenging the West with the power of information, but according to Hodges, the West should not go down that road to stay true to its values. Furthermore, he explained that the sophisticated equipment and strategy used by the rebels in eastern Ukraine were an obvious proof of Russian support.
Hodges remarked that fewer and fewer member states were showing a willingness to commit to the NATO alliance. Regarding the question whether the United States is ready to take the burden as a leader of NATO in Europe under these circumstances, he clarified that it is in the strategic interest of the United States to maintain a significant role on this continent. At the same time, he pointed towards the responsibility of Germany as a prominent leader in Europe to contribute its share militarily, and not just in the realms of economy and diplomacy– and to step forward from the historic mistake it made 70 years ago.