Conflict of Interests

BERLIN/MOSCOW/KIEW | | ukrainerussische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW/KIEW (Own report) - Against the background of the so-called gas conflict between Moscow and Kiew, German government advisors are predicting a heightening of tensions between Russia and NATO states. After the heavy losses of influence in the Ukraine, in the Southern Caucasus and in the resourceful Caspian regions, the Kremlin will seek to use its "gigantic reserves in natural resources" to consolidate its defenses against further western offensives. This is the analysis heard in the German capital. Berlin is anxiously watching the current Russian economic policy and worries about its own operative influence in its East European backyard. To be able to confront new putsch attempts à la Georgia and the Ukraine, Moscow is tightening the controls over forefront organizations of NATO states and is even reining in the Russian subsidiaries of German political party foundations. The German government financed "Deutsche Welle" (DW) radio station is threatened with the revocation of its Russian broadcasting permit. This "technical problem" has been the theme of on-going negotiations and is symptomatic of the frontlines in the East-West conflict. Results are not expected before the second half of January, german-foreign-policy.com has learned from DW sources.

The Bonn-based radio station uses its Russian-language program for overt as well as covert influence work, corresponding to the Berlin government's idea of freedom of the press. Financed out of the German national budget, the Deutsche Welle helped support, in October 2005, anti-Russian opposition circles during the elections in Azerbaijan.[1] The DW program regularly promotes Russian pro-western dissidents ("Civil Society") and gives them medial exposure.[2] The political directorate of DW plans to put its "New Program Broadcast in Eastern Europe" on the air in January 2006. At their planning session for the coming years, the DW directorate decided that "especially the development and elaboration of a Russian-language broadcast for Central Asia" must be pushed forward. As learned by german-foreign-policy.com, this was the reason behind the Russian counter-measures.

Cliché Like

Pointing to the issuing of new broadcast permits, the Russian-language DW broadcast was interrupted Dec. 22, by Moscow, following months of negotiations. It has returned on the air in the meantime. This "shot over the bow" caused Bonn to make a realistic appraisal of the situation. In a conversation with german-foreign-policy.com, a representative of DW described the political situation as "very delicate," only to then abruptly change the subject: this is "a purely technical problem." This cliché like terminology, accords with diplomatic custom and is similar to that used in Russian declarations about the gas conflict with the Ukraine. Berlin does not take it seriously.

Lost

The German government advisor, Alexander Rahr, is of the opinion that the so-called gas conflict is the result of bitter struggles for influence in the Russian Eastern European neighborhood. That Germans are also participants in this struggle, Rahr does not deny. Following its loss of power in Georgia (2003) and in the Ukraine (2004), having been forced to give up military bases in the Southern Caucasus (2005), and through the opening of the Baku-Tbilissi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (2005), Moscow has lost its monopoly over the transport of Caspian energy resources, writes the German expert on Russia.[3]

Central Asia

In light of these strategic economic setbacks, the western offensive in the Ukraine and the dissident propaganda against Moscow take on a particular significance. Russia is not only in the process of losing its influence with the neighboring states, it also sees itself confronted with a further disintegration of the precarious CIS alliance. The new Ukrainian government - which came to power with significant German support [4] - has, since one year, been trying to replace the Community of Independent States (CIS) with an alternative, pro-western alliance. Kiew sees promise in its recently initiated "Community of Democratic Choice,"[5] which is supposed to be preparing the Caspian resources transit nations for membership in NATO. The "development and elaboration of a Russian-language broadcast for Central Asia" modeled after the Deutsche Welle, is aimed at the Caspian resource region.

Anti-Putsch Measures

Moscow is attempting to apply administrative measures against the efforts for attaining political influence, to forestall putsch attempts by western organizations. Developments emulating the Georgian and Ukrainian model should, if possible, be prevented. The Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly passed a law at the end of December concerning state supervision of foreign organizations functioning in Russia. According to this law, the licenses can be revoked if the sovereignty, the territorial integrity or the political independence of the country is endangered - a regulation of open repression in the interests of the self-preservation of the state. This law applies also to the German party foundations, that had been characterized by the former German President, Roman Herzog, as "the most effective instrument of German foreign policy."[6] They are being accused in several countries of engaging in subversive activities.[7]

Exclusive Position

Berlin's protests against the Russian state protection program is not consensus in German economic circles. Whereas other NATO member states see a dependence on Russian resources as a strategic disadvantage, representatives of German energy corporations believe that through participation in Russian shipment companies, they are sitting in an unrivaled position. In effect, the special relations are assuring them an exclusive postion among the western nations. The Germano-Russian North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP "Baltic Pipeline") is under the authority of a German CEO (Matthias Warnig), who has at his side a German chairman of the board of directors (ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder).[8] German export circles are mobilizing in opposition to the Germano-Russian energy preferences and their configurations of mainly social democrat personnel as intermediaries. They are orienting themselves on their western export clients, particularly in the USA and are also being supplied from there. NEGP CEO, Warnig is being confronted with enough accusations of espionage, to fill half a page in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.[9]

Bypass Alliances

The Germano-Russian special relations facilitates bypass alliances of the Eastern European neighboring states. In Poland, the Baltic states, as well as, in the Ukraine, there are apprehensions about once again becoming negotiable quantities in the power politics of their neighboring major powers. This leads them to seek protection from the USA and renders the objective conflict of interests between Berlin and Washington even more profound.

[1] Topthema: Oppositionsbewegungen in den GUS-Staaten; DW-Radio Fokus Ost-Südost 07.10.2005. Topthema: Aserbaidschan vor den Wahlen: Opposition unter Druck; DW-Radio Fokus Ost-Südost 21.10.2005
[2] Zulauf für oppositionelles Bündnis demokratischer Kräfte in Russland; DW-Radio/Russisch 08.12.2005. Topthema: Russland: Zivilgesellschaft immer mehr in Gefahr; DW-Radio Fokus Ost-Südost 23.12.2005
[3] Putins Kronprinz; GUS-Barometer Nr. 40, Januar 2006
[4] see also Sozialdemokratische Drohungen, Antisemitische "Kultur" and "Befreiung der Ukraine"
[5] Ukraine, Rumänien, Moldawien, Mazedonien, Slowenien, Estland, Lettland, Litauen. See also Ergebnis eines Jahres
[6] Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. See also "The Most Effective Instruments of German Foreign Policy"
[7] see also Zuerst Gerechtigkeit, Die Tibetfrage and Der nächste, bitte!
[8] see also Area of Natural Gas
[9] "Material von mittlerem Wert". Aus dem Vorleben eines früheren Stasi-Majors, der heute Generaldirektor der deutsch-russischen Ostsee-Gaspipeline ist; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.01.2006