BERLIN/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Own report) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting today with US President Donald Trump is not only overshadowed by his threat of applying punitive tariffs and the Iran conflict, but also by a dispute over economic aspects of the USA's Russia policy. On the one hand, the Trump administration is calling on Berlin to forego the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In fact, the pipeline, which establishes Germany as the EU's central distributor for Russian natural gas, is one of the main aspects of Germany's energy policy. On the other, the newest round of sanctions that the US has levied against Russia - without consulting Berlin - threatens to cause serious damage to German companies. The dispute with Washington is escalating at a time when the Russia policy is becoming more controversial in Germany. Whereas the German government is accentuating its course - while media organs are openly campaigning for being prepared to go to war with Russia - business associations are pushing for moderation. Some formerly influential politicians are warning of the "danger of a third and final world war." more…

BERLIN/DAMASCUS/MOSCOW | | syrienrussische-foederation

BERLIN/DAMASCUS/MOSCOW (Own report) - The German government, after having applauded the bombing of Syria, is now demanding participation in the country's reorganization, once the war has ended. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intentions to have a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin "in the foreseeable future," to discuss particularly the development in Syria. The enormous costs for Syria's reconstruction, which can hardly be covered by Russia alone, are viewed as a means of leverage on Moscow. Berlin also sees itself in a position to mediate between Russia and the USA in view of Washington's threat to attack Russian positions in Syria. While the German government is going on the offensive to win influence, new foreign policy controversies are developing among the EU member states. In addition, questions are also being raised about the legitimacy of Saturday's illegal air strikes: A renowned British journalist reported that doctors in Douma have doubts that chemical weapons had been used in that city on April 7. According to the OPCW, the research institute that had been bombed on Saturday had had nothing to do with poison-gas. more…

BERLIN/LONDON/MOSCOW | | grossbritannienrussische-foederation

BERLIN/LONDON/MOSCOW (Own report) - NATO is envisaging a new arms buildup against Russia, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday in an interview. Stoltenberg expects that the heads of states and governments of NATO's member countries will "face new decisions" at the NATO summit in July in Brussels to "improve" the "defensive capabilities" and military "preparedness" of the member nations. Officially, this was triggered by the double assassination attempt in Salisbury, Great Britain, which until now has not been solved. Police predict that the investigation may take months. A former British ambassador explains that employees of Britain's foreign office compare the pressure they are now under for this case, with the pressure in 2003, when the government claimed that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is also introducing new measures against Moscow, whereas the majority of the German population favors rapprochement with Russia. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - The Russian petroleum company, Rosneft, is expanding its activities in Germany, thereby reducing Germany's dependence on the transatlantic oil industry. While public discussion is focused on ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's candidacy for the chair of Rosneft's board of directors, the company has increased its share to 25 percent of Germany's crude oil imports, and has become the third largest oil processing enterprise in Germany. It has plans to further strengthen its position in the country, inspired by the close German-Russian natural gas cooperation, which provides Germany significant influence over Western Europe's supply of Russian gas. Achieving predominant influence over the EU's supply and a growing independence vis-à-vis the energy giants of the transatlantic era, facilitates Berlin's pursuit of an independent German-EU global policy. more…

KABUL/BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | afghanistanrussische-foederation

KABUL/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - In light of the new buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, experts are warning of a new proxy war between NATO and Russia at the Hindu Kush. As observers unanimously explain, Russia has been able to expand its influence in Afghanistan significantly over the past few years. Moreover, the dismal results of NATO's nearly 16 years of war have seriously damaged the West's reputation in that country. Moscow can now take advantage of this situation and enhance its prestige, according to reports. A former top US intelligence official considers that, Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Afghanistan as "one more hot spot, to exercise his influence" and depict Moscow "as the problem solver and peacemaker." If NATO and Russia ally with divergent forces at the Hindu Kush, it could develop into another proxy war, as in Syria. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - In the prelude to Chancellor Merkel's visit to Russia, German business associations and foreign policy experts are urging that the policy of sanctions be ended. They argue that sanctions practically have become ineffective, since Russia's economy has withstood these trade restrictions and is now even recovering. The boycott has also damaged the EU's image and that of the USA in Russia and, even though intended to weaken, it has helped to stabilize the Russian government. Moreover, Russian orders, that German businesses had once expected, were increasingly going to competitors, for example in China - and are ultimately lost. However, German economists still see Russia as a lucrative market. According to an analysis by the Bertelsmann Foundation and Munich's ifo Institute, a free-trade agreement between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), congregated around Russia, would generate a growth of 45 billion euros. Government advisors recommend that the sanctions policy be gradually ended. This would not eliminate the prospect that Moscow, at any time, could be forced to its knees with an arms race. more…

BERLIN | | russische-foederation

BERLIN (Own report) - German military specialists are evaluating the growing significance of the Baltic and the Black Seas in the West's power struggle with Moscow. These two "marginal seas" are of great importance to Russia, according to a recent analysis published in the specialized periodical "MarineForum." Whereas the Baltic Sea serves Russian maritime trade as a "gateway to the Atlantic," the Russian Navy needs the Black Sea as a strategically central "diving board into the Mediterranean," facilitating Russia to gain influence from the Middle East all the way to the Indian Ocean. Whereas NATO controls the access to both "marginal seas," Moscow is seeking to consolidate its strategic positions, and to better extend its reach from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. NATO is seeking countermeasures to again confine Russia, the MarineForum writes. Germany is also expanding its activities in and at the Black Sea and is inviting allied navies to participate in joint maneuvers in the Baltic Sea. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German business circles are discerning a clear reversal of trend in business with Russia, despite the EU's alleged prolongation of sanctions against Moscow. In the third quarter of 2016, German exports to Russia have increased for the first time since sanctions were imposed. German investments in Russia are again growing already reaching a volume of two billion Euros this year. The Daimler Group, for example, is currently planning to construct a plant worth 300 million Euros near Moscow. The gradual growth in business relations is flanked by negotiations at the state secretary level, with the preliminary groundwork being laid by leading think tanks. However, that President-elect Donald Trump, who, together with his designated Foreign Minister, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, intends to change course and cooperate more closely with Russia, at least on a punctual basis, is not seen very favorably from the German perspective. It would undermine the traditional division of labor among western countries in relationship to Russia that had been to Germany's advantage. While Washington was usually exerting massive pressure on Moscow, Berlin could often assume an advantageous mediator role - with a consensus on exerting pressure on Moscow to submit to western policy, while enhancing its own business relations. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German government advisors are speculating about Russia's possible foreign policy offensives and discussing countermeasures to be taken. According to a research paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Russia "has continuously developed and further diversified" its foreign policy "tool chest" over the past few years. Today it includes "enhanced military capabilities, alongside numerous 'soft' tools." like "the orchestrated disinformation campaign in traditional mass media and online social networks, the instrumentalization of ethnic minorities, use of civil society organizations, economic cooperation, or economic pressure." The research paper describes fictitious scenarios, such as Russian support for extreme right-wing parties in Western European election campaigns as well as steps to ward off Russian influence. The types of international activities being ascribed to Russia are practices long in use by NATO countries - particularly Germany. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - In view of the Duma elections in Russia, the German foreign policy establishment is discussing Russia's future foreign policy and appropriate western reactions. This discussion is deemed necessary, given the fact that the institutions analyzing foreign policy had failed to foresee Russian initiatives both in the Ukrainian conflict and the Syrian war, according to a study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The SWP analysis indicates that politicians and experts were taken in by their own propaganda and their "stereotyping" interpretations "blinded" them to actual developments. In his contribution to the discussion, a well-known Russian expert wrote that, for the time being, Moscow as well as the western powers will most likely continue a confrontational foreign policy, because it is in their respective interests. With this policy, both sides would seek to consolidate their alliances and overcome the growing divisions within their own societies. In the West, this can be seen in the mantra-like "mention of Putin in the establishment parties' elections and other campaigns." more…