DGAP President makes a plea for weapons deliveries to Ukraine and to increase Germany’s military budget, possibly to more than €100 billion. East European resistance to new NATO presence.
BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – The German government should immediately deliver “weapons and munition” to Ukraine and, in the course of five years, increase Germany’s military budget to up to 3 percent of the country’s GDP – possibly to more than €100 billion. These demands are being made by the President of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Thomas Enders. Enders also calls for “the introduction of compulsory service or the draft for men and women,” to “be able to create a rapidly mobilizable reserve for homeland defense.” He also mentions the deployment of more German troops in Eastern Europe. He attacks German government policy during the Ukraine crisis as “irresponsible.” NATO’s plans to deploy units, such as those in Poland and the Baltic countries also in other countries in eastern and southeastern Europe, are creating new splits in the region. Whereas Romania, for example, is in favor of the measure and the French military is already considering establishing a presence in that country, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary are opposed. More than 50 percent of the Slovaks consider Russia a strategic partner. Read more
Mali’s government expels Danish troops, because they had joined the French-led Opération Takuba without the necessary approval. Resentment grows toward EU.
BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) – Mali’s government is escalating its confrontation with EU countries and, for the first time, is forcing the withdrawal of a European troop contingent. On Monday, the military government in Bamako declared that Danish soldiers had entered the country to join the French-led Opération Takuba without the necessary authorization, and that they must leave the country immediately. Denmark claims that the deployment of its troops had been approved by Bamako, but announced yesterday that it would withdraw the disputed unit from Mali. With this conflict, the Malian government’s protest against the behavior of European powers, accusing them of having “colonial reflexes,” enters its second round. The dispute hat already previously escalated, when Bamako decided to postpone elections, initially planned for February, and to invite Russian military instructors into the country. With Sunday’s putsch in Burkina Faso toppling a president closely aligned with France, the European powers’ influence is beginning to wane in yet another Sahel country. Read more
USA and NATO announce new large-scale military exercises against Russia – with German participation. Bundeswehr plans to build barracks in Lithuania.
WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) – Amid escalating tensions between the West and Russia, the Pentagon has announced the next large-scale Defender-Europe exercise to train the deployment of US troops at the Russian border. According to NATO, Defender-Europe 22 will begin in May and last until mid-June. Approximately 33,000 troops from 26 nations – including the Bundeswehr – are scheduled to participate, according to the Pentagon. The exercise, that will rehearse the rapid deployment of large combat units from the USA to eastern and southeastern Europe, is but one in a series of the NATO countries’ planned combat exercises for the coming months, aimed at Russia. They include naval combat exercises in the Baltic Sea, airborne operations near the Russian border, and hunting Russian submarines in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. A permanent deployment of NATO battalions in Rumania and Bulgaria is also in discussion. To set an example, the Bundeswehr has recently announced that it plans to build barracks for its NATO battle group in Lithuania. Read more
Russia’s suspension from the international banking payment system is reportedly off the table. Reason: Western states would suffer serious blowback.
BERLIN/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Own report) – In the discussion on western sanctions against Russia, suspending the country from the international banking payment system SWIFT is off the table, according to a report. Even though recently it had been contemplated to exclude Russia from the international banking payment system in case of a military escalation of the Ukraine conflict, it is no longer considered a realistic option, government sources contend. The expected damage for the West would simply be too high. The EU states, including Germany, would, for example, no longer be able to pay for gas deliveries from Russia, a suspe’nsion of deliveries could be the consequence. In addition, Moscow and Beijing already have their own payment systems, which could quickly become competition for SWIFT, if Russia is suspended and this would jeopardize the West’s dominance over the international banking payment system. If the report is confirmed, it would be a serious setback for the West’s sanctions policy, which would lose its most effective financial weapon. Sanctions against Russian banks are now being considered as an alternative. Read more
In the runup to Baerbock's visit to Moscow, criticism is being voiced on the confrontational approach to Russia. OSCE Charter: Choice of alliance “not at the expense of the security of other states.”
BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – Prior to Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, criticism was raised over Berlin and Washington's current confrontational approach to Russia. The West's policy toward Russia, which is “only based on deterrence,” has “been unsuccessful,” according to the political scientist Johannes Varwick in an article published by a leading German journal. Extensive negotiations with Moscow are indispensable. They should include the perspective of Ukraine’s “neutrality” (“Finlandization”). Contrary to claims by politicians and the media, Ukraine’s “free choice of alliance” is not the only applicable principle in international agreements regarding the country's possible NATO accession. Several OSCE documents oblige European states to choose their security arrangements, such as joining a military alliance, “not at the expense of the security of other states.” German media, on the other hand, are advocating a further escalation of the dangerous conflict. Read more
Berlin considers beefing up the Bundeswehr in Mali. Background: Bamako relies on military instructors from Russia.
BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) – The chairwoman of the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag is raising the issue of arming the Bundeswehr soldiers with Boxer armored transport vehicles. “If that air becomes more leaded,” the “light and medium weight equipment,” currently at the Bundeswehr soldiers’ disposal may no longer suffice, according to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP). Alternately, one must ask, whether the Bundeswehr’s withdrawal from Mali could provoke “large movements of refugees” or if the “Russians would broaden their presence” in the country, since Mali’s military government – like the government of the Central African Republic – is inviting military instructors from Russia into the country, possibly personnel from private military contractors. On the one hand, there is fear that once European troops withdraw, it could end up like the government in Afghanistan, and on the other, resentment is growing toward the European states’ neocolonialist policies, while Russia’s popularity is increasing. According to experts, “many Malians” are fed up with “sanctions and threats” from former colonial powers. Read more
USA and Russia negotiate arms control – without the participation of Germany or the EU. US experts recommend avoiding two-front war against Russia and China.
BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – Without the participation of Germany and the EU, the USA and Russia open talks in Geneva on NATO activities in Eastern Europe and arms control measures. Moscow is insisting that NATO halt its eastward expansion and the military activities near Russia’s borders. Washington rejects this, but is prepared, for example, to scale back maneuvers in Eastern Europe. Berlin and Brussels are not involved. The “Normandy Format,” under which Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine have been unsuccessfully negotiating for seven years, has been currently put on ice. Western European powers are only included in the negotiation process within the NATO framework. The German government is engaging in frantic activities to exert more influence on the talks – so far also to no avail. According to experts, the United States could hardly win a war against both China and Russia. This is why Washington is interested in a certain degree of a relaxation of tensions on the European front. Read more
After the world's largest free trade agreement RCEP became effective on January 1, business representatives warn of serious losses for the German industry.
BERLIN/JAKARTA (Own report) – Germany and the EU are at risk of losing out in the world's most significant growth region, business representatives warn, regarding the world's largest free trade agreement RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which became effective on January 1, and is still hardly known in Germany. RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between 15 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, which includes the world's second and third largest economies – China’s and Japan’s respectively. Together, the RCEP countries represent nearly a third of the global GDP. RCEP has the potential of consolidating international supply chains within its member countries, luring production sites away – also from Germany, for example – and to set globally important trade norms and industrial standards. The new free trade alliance is a structural consequence of the shift in the balance of forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific and of former colonies turning their backs on their former colonial powers. German business representatives are calling for swift action to prevent potential losses to the German industry. Read more