Countering Russia in the Far North
Conflict with Russia reaches far north. German Bundeswehr upgrades its capacities for operations in the Norwegian Sea to keep Russian warships out of the Atlantic.
BERLIN/OSLO (Own report) - The escalating conflict with Russia is reaching the far north, prompting the Bundeswehr to upgrade and exercise for operations in the Norwegian Sea, according to a recent analysis by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). As the analysis notes, particularly the sea passage between Greenland, Island and Great Britain ("GIUK Gap") is gaining importance. The Russian Navy must cross the "GIUK Gap" if it wants to enter the Atlantic. During the Cold War, the "GIUK Gap" was already considered highly important for preventing potential Soviet attacks on North American supplies to Europe or Soviet naval attacks on the United States. Iceland, located at the center of this maritime region, had "the geopolitical status of a sort of battlefield," noted former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis. The Bundeswehr will be provided maritime reconnaissance aircraft and submarines worth billions of euros to operate in the "GIUK Gap." German and Dutch special forces are also jointly preparing for operations in the far north. Read more
Europe's Power is Eroding
European Council on Foreign Relations' new "Power Atlas" shows: The global power potential of the West, particularly the EU, is steadily declining - with the exception of military power.
BERLIN (Own report) - The global power potential of the EU and its member countries is eroding and cannot keep up with that of the United States and China, as confirmed by data in "Power Atlas," recently published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Not only the German and the EU's relative economic power is systematically declining, Germany is also losing ground in terms of its share of major corporations with global influence. China is leading in every sector. In the high-tech sectors such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics and the like, the USA and China dominate. The EU, ECFR notes, "fails to keep pace." In the future, "geopolitics will be dominated by countries and firms" that excel in precisely these fields. Only in the military sector - in terms of the volume of military expenditures, the number of foreign military bases - are western powers, led by the United States far out front. The military could thus take on prime importance in the West's attempt to maintain its dwindling global dominance against China. Read more
Weaponry for Ukraine
Berlin is under mounting pressure to authorize arms deliveries to Kiev. NATO countries have been systematically arming Ukraine for years.
BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) - Pressure is mounting on the German government to authorize arms deliveries to Ukraine. This is prompted by the fact that Berlin vetoed the supply of US-made sniper rifles to Ukraine via the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). The Ukrainian armed forces are already being upgraded by NATO and its member states. So far, the USA has provided military aid worth more than US $2.5 billion, including the delivery of hundreds of Javelin anti-tank missiles. Poland and the Czech Republic have delivered dozens of second-hand armored personnel carriers, Turkey is supplying Kiev with its infamous Bayraktar TB2 drones. Great Britain, in turn, has begun to upgrade Ukraine's naval forces and wants to help Ukraine acquire new warships and construct new naval bases. Via the NSPA, NATO will supply Kiev with an anti-drone system - with Berlin's explicit support. Kiev is demanding more and accuses Berlin of "blocking" further arms deliveries. Read more
Economy as a Weapon (IV)
EU Commission presents today a new tool to counteract economic coercion. Initially planned to counter US extraterritorial sanctions, it will now to be used against China.
BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Own report) - A new EU instrument to counteract sanctions would deprive member states of prerogatives - with wide-ranging foreign policy ramifications - transferring them to the EU Commission. This was revealed in the draft of the planned "anti-coercion instrument" that will be presented today by EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. The decision to create this "instrument" was largely motivated by intentions to counteract US coercive measures such as sanctions against Nord Stream 2. The groundwork has been laid since last year by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a pan-European think tank headquartered in Berlin, also with the involvement of Germany's foreign ministry and the EU Commission's Director General of Trade, Sabine Weyand. According to current planning, she would be in charge of imposing eventual EU sanctions. Under discussion are the first EU punitive measures soon to be imposed on China. Read more
300 Billion to Counter the Silk Road
EU launches €300 Billion Infrastructure initiative "Global Gateway" pursuing global ambitions, a project directed against China's New Silk Road.
BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - With an infrastructure initiative worth up to €300 billion, the EU attempts to compete with China's New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI). The initiative named "Global Gateway" was officially presented last Wednesday after bumpy preparations that were widely criticized as largely inadequate. It is intended to provide finances for the construction of roads, railways and digital links – infrastructure projects worldwide to be mainly undertaken by companies from EU countries. The pressure on Brussels to launch the initiative has recently increased. Despite temporary difficulties due to the Corona crises, the BRI has been quite successful with 142 countries participating so far. Only those powers in rivalry with Beijing are not participating – the USA, the leading West European countries (except Italy), Australia, India, Japan. Observers, however, are skeptical, because no concrete Global Gateway project has yet been named and significant portions of the financing have yet to be secured. A previous EU project has long been considered a failure. Read more
NATO foreign ministers increase pressure on Moscow. Blinken calls on Russia to relocate its troops. Putin insists on agreements to halt the escalation of conflicts.
MOSCOW/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Yesterday's meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers in Latvia's capital Riga ended with new threats against Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Moscow to immediately withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border. His outgoing German counterpart Heiko Maas praised the fact that a "common" language was found regarding "Russian troop movements." The grounds, on which NATO ministers claim authority to prohibit Moscow from deploying its own troops in a particular area of its own territory, remain unclear. At the same time, several NATO countries are positioning new forces against Russia. The UK will base tanks and combat vehicles in Germany to be able to move them more quickly toward the Russian border, in the event of an escalation. Russian President Vladimir Putin urgently warns NATO states not to cross Moscow's red lines and demands that NATO ends its "further eastward expansion," while insisting on agreements with "security guarantees” to halt the escalation of conflicts. Read more