We are Boucha

Annalena Baerbock is the first government official to visit Ukraine since the Russian war of aggression.

Annalena Baerbock is the first government official to visit Ukraine since the Russian war of aggression.Image: imago images / imago images


Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock travels to Kyiv and is informed about the atrocities in the suburb of Bucha. There she says a remarkable sentence: “We could be the victims.” She wants the perpetrators to be held accountable – and in doing so creates a closeness between us and those affected that she might not have planned at all.

05/10/2022, 18:2605/10/2022, 19:19

“Je suis Charlie”, “Je suis Paris”, “Je suis Orlando”. With these sentences, from 2015 onwards, we all around the world created an intimacy, a closeness between us and the victims of terrible crimes. We showed our solidarity. Were shocked by these attacks. Because they weren’t attacks on individuals or organizations: they were attacks on democracy, on the western world, on our morals – on us.

An Islamist attack on the French satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” in January 2015 (12 dead), several terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015 in Paris (130 dead), a massacre in Orlando in June 2016 (at least 50 dead).

“No one has ever said ‘Je suis Butscha’.”

And now: numerous attacks, for months on different places in Ukraine. These are also attacks on us. They are a war waged against our values.

More than 400 bodies were found in the Kiev suburb of Bucha after Russian troops withdrew – some bound, with their hands behind their backs. Women, children and also men were raped, tortured.

“Je suis Butscha” has never been said before.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Image: dpa / Florian Gaertner

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) traveled to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday. She is being informed about these atrocities, speaking to the Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova. Try the waves between Germany and the Ukraine after there had been anger about an obvious disinviction of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

In fact, she is even received by President Zelenskyy.

Baerbock is now there: the first German member of the government to visit Ukraine since Putin’s attack on February 24. She looks into the many cameras of the journalists. And she demands clarification. She wants to hold the perpetrators accountable. “We owe it to the victims,” ​​she says. “And these victims, you can also feel that so strongly here, we could be these victims.”

With this sentence, the Green politician creates a closeness between us and the victims of the Russian military that she may not have tried to create at first.

And this closeness is good!

It hurts, but just the thought that such an attack could have hit us too is frightening. It creates an oppressive feeling. Makes you want to turn back time, undo everything. Feeds the urge to help.

“Ya Bucha” (Я – Буча), “I am Boucha”.

“My Bucha” (Ми – Буча), “We are Bucha”.

Such thoughts are what strengthen the spirit of solidarity. We identify with the victims. Feel with, suffer with, care for, want to help and most of all want this People to be freed from their suffering.

Yes, we could be those victims. Somehow we are them too. Of course, we did not personally and directly suffer from these horrific and bloodthirsty acts. But these attacks were also aimed at us.

“Putin and Lavrov create horrific images. Images that are so terrible that you can’t imagine them coming true. Unfortunately, these images became reality – in Bucha.”

Vladimir Putin attacks us all with his war of annihilation against Ukraine. He himself and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov make no secret of their thoughts: They have long been at war with NATO, with the West, with democracy and with our values. The fact that Ukraine has been orientating more and more towards the west since 2013 does not fit into their picture.

With disgusting, cowardly and cruel acts they want to show us all the power they can wield over individuals. It’s their sadistic game. They feast on our fear and suffering.

They want to stir up fears. And not just with the threat of dropping atomic bombs. They stir up fears in the enemy, quite privately. They get into their heads and create horrific images. Pictures so horrific that you can’t imagine them coming true. Unfortunately, these images have become reality – in Butscha.

And Baerbock now draws a connecting line with her sentence – “we could be these victims”. A line that could go like this in our heads: Bucha could be Kyiv tomorrow. And Kyiv could be Warsaw the day after tomorrow. And Warsaw could too Berlin will.

And then we’re back where we were: We are Butscha.

An investigator wears a vest with the inscription "War Crimes Prosecutor" ("war crimes prosecutor").  He collects evidence of war crimes in Bucha.

An investigator wears a vest with “War Crimes Prosecutor” written on it. He collects evidence of war crimes in Bucha.Image: dpa / Carol Guzy

So Annalena Baerbock calls for clarification and court decisions. But that alone is not enough these days. The burden that the survivors of these acts carry on their backs, we have to shoulder together with them. Otherwise the solidarity that German politicians are constantly talking about at the moment would just be a fictitious word.

Nothing else.

More needs to be done to show solidarity: psychological relief programs, further financial, economic and humanitarian assistance during the war, arms deliveries. And in the end: help with reconstruction, financial compensation from Russia if there should be a conviction at some point – especially to those who had to suffer from the Russian military’s delusions of power.

It takes more than enlightenment. It takes more than an international criminal tribunal. It needs justice. Because these people deserve it. We owe it to them!

The concern is great: According to several, the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria, which belongs to the Republic of Moldova, rules explosions unrest. The war could be near. The Moldovans are afraid.

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