By Margaux Stehle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2022
NEW YORK – Clara Benthein, a German student activist, has been participating in weekly demonstrations protesting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in her neighborhood.
To Germans, Russian aggression in Ukraine presents a very pressing threat right in their own backyard.
Clara spoke about the power of collective action in influencing government decisions, saying, “while you may feel like what you have to say won't make a difference, when our voices are united we can sway our government's policy for good and make a truly important impact.”
Throughout the conflict, the German government has been accused of not being harsh enough in their policy towards Moscow, especially in comparison to America and other European countries. Recently, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that he would not visit Kyiv.
These protests have been successful in increasing German support of Ukraine as Scholz recently eased Berlin’s restrictive arms export policy and agreed to supply weapons and tanks to Ukraine.
Speaking about her position on the conflict and Germany’s position, Clara said, “I am not by any means condoning war, violence, or conflict but I do believe that we all have an obligation to support Ukraine whether a country chooses to send weapons or helmets (referring to an early German aid package sent to Ukraine).”
In late March, thousands of people in Berlin protested the war in Ukraine in addition to advocating for stronger action against global warming. Ilyess El Kortbi, a 25-year-old Russian activist who helped establish Fridays for Future Ukraine, called on Germany, among other European countries, to stop purchasing fossil fuels from Russia. He argued that the EU, in particular Germany, were playing a key role in financing the war in Ukraine through these purchases.
Teens for Press Freedom Media Relations Deputy Director Ifeoma Okwuka contributed, “Regardless of how minimal or immense a step may seem, any action is always better than no action at all. From attending organized demonstrations to supporting charities and making the consistent effort to stay informed, all are ways to express our support for the people in Ukraine.”