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Opinion

Petition by Bild newspaper fans the flames

German politicians agree that Putin's actions in Ukraine violate international law. But a call by Germany's Bild tabloid to remove Russian tanks from a WWII memorial in Berlin is ill-advised, says DW's Ingo Mannteufel.

Bild Zeitung, Germany's best-selling, most important tabloid, has launched a terse petition drive: the paper urges its readers to support a petition to the Bundestag that demands "the removal of the Russian tanks at the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin's Tiergarten Park." The paper justifies the move with Russia's policy on Ukraine.

Putin's dangerous policies

There is no doubt that Putin's policies must be condemned, now that he is aiming at further destabilizing Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea, in itself an act of violating international law. Not only is Russia breaking several international treaties in which Moscow recognized Ukraine's territorial sovereignty with its revanchist policies: by resorting to aggressive foreign policies, Putin is challenging the entire European peace order that has developed since the 1970s.

That's the German government's opinion, shared by a vast majority of German politicians.

Harmful and wrong

It is not to be expected that the Bild paper's call will find much political support: it is evident that the call is counterproductive in its immediate political impact. The initiative launched by Germany's largest tabloid doesn't contribute to stabilizing the situation in Ukraine and finding a political solution to the crisis – it fans the flames.

In Germany, it activates anti-Russian animosity and in Russia, it will be a welcome gift to boost the Kremlin's anti-western propaganda.

After all, May 9 is inching closer, when Russia will once again extensively celebrate the anniversary of the end of World War II.

Russian state media enthusiastically exploits harmful and wrong initiatives like the BILD drive to further bolster the isolation myth propagated by the Kremlin. Instead of pointing out the consequences of Putin's aggressive revanchist policies to the Russian people - policies that are dangerous for them, too - such crass initiatives only serve to confirm the Kremlin's point of view on the allegedly hostile West.

Bild's petition drive is sad proof of how quickly animosity that Germany had long believed a thing of the past can be revived and of the thoughtless manner in which irresponsible journalism is handled in one the biggest crises Europe has seen in decades.

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