“Crimea will not happen again”

Interview with DW, The Day, 12.03.2019

DW: Twenty years after the expansion eastward, to talk about that, I am joined here at the big table by Tobias Pflüger. He is a member of the German parliament for the left party. He also sits on the parliamentary defense committee. Mr. Pflüger, it’s good to have you on the program. You know they say „hindsight is always 20/20“, right. We are always smarter, we are always schlauer, as they say in German. Why is it a mistake for NATO to expand to the doorsteps of the former Soviet Union twenty years ago?

Tobias Pflüger: At the end yes. When we look to it, then now we have a lot of NATO member states surrounding Russia and there are arms increasing on both sides in the moment. We have the cancelling of the INF treaty and what we see is that more and more manoeuvres and troops from both sides are in this region. And it’s something like more and more normal cold war, it’s…

DW: But do you think that the expansion of NATO made Vladimir Putin possible?

Tobias Pflüger: Perhaps…

DW: He needs an enemy, doesn’t he?

Tobias Pflüger: Perhaps… the main problem is there was something on the table some years ago. It was the idea from Gorbachev to have something like a common house in Europe, to have a common security system. We have it in our program that we say that there should be something like a common security system what includes Russia. That’s very important…

DW: That includes Russia, Europe and the United States, right?

Tobias Pflüger: And… yes!

DW: That was offered as early as 1997, according to Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State of the US to Boris Yeltsin. And he refused to take the offer seriously.

Tobias Pflüger: Unfortunately, because I think it would the best idea. In the moment we have a terrible situation; that Russia is something like the new enemy for the Western states and there is a total increasing of spending money for arms. And it would be possible to have something like common security. So it was a mistake to make in this time – the NATO expansion…

DW: Well, you see those mistakes… what about in the time after Vladimir Putin? Do you think then, there will be another opportunity to change NATO and to have this share security alliance?

Tobias Pflüger: Perhaps it’s possible, because clearly there wasn’t Crimea, we know it…

DW: Do you consider Vladimir Putin to be the biggest obstacle now to reducing the tension that we have?

Tobias Pflüger: I would say nevertheless what happened in Crimea, it will not happen in some of region, no. Because it was a special situation and it’s absolutely clear that it will not happen again. And so it would be a good idea to have all the negotiations with Putin to have this common security system and to stop the arms rise.

DW: Mr. Pflüger, we appreciate you came in tonight, I’d like to talk with you longer, unfortunately, we are out of time, but we appreciate your insights tonight.