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…

BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW (Own report) - The Mejlis, a Crimean Tatar organization - banned in Russia but supported by Berlin - has announced its plans to open official representative offices in Brussels and Washington this autumn, emphasizing particularly the importance of a seat in Brussels. The Mejlis, presented in the West as the only legitimate representative body of the Crimean Tatars, is actually only representing the pro-western tendency among them, while another tendency, with pro-Russian leanings, has for years explicitly rejected its policy. This split among Crimean Tatars hails back to the final years of the Cold War, when the long-time western ally - and subsequently Mejlis Chairman - Mustafa Jemilev supported radical demands for autonomy, while pursuing a tough anti-Russian course. When, in the 1960s, Jemilev began his campaign for Crimean Tatar autonomy in the Soviet-Union, he was given western support aimed at weakening the Soviet adversary from within. At the same time, Crimean Tatars, exiled in the Federal Republic of Germany, were pursuing the same objective - "Russia's national decomposition" - as it was referred to at the time. A Crimean Tatar, who had served as a main liaison to the Nazis, subsequently continuing his collaborationist activities in the Federal Republic of Germany, assisted them and, began in the 1950s, to also work for CIA-financed organizations in Munich. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German business circles and proxy foreign policy organizations are campaigning to have the sanctions against Russia lifted. More than two-thirds of the people in Germany are in favor of lifting sanctions, reports Koerber Foundation (Hamburg) based on a current opinion poll. More than four-fifths want close cooperation with Russia, and 95 percent consider a rapprochement in the next few years to either be "important" or "very important." The Koerber Foundation, an influential organization in the field of foreign policy, has, for years, been engaged in developing cooperation between Germany and Russia. The hope of an early lifting of sanctions was also the subject of the 4th East Forum Berlin, an economic forum with top-rank participants, held in mid-April, at which a state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke in favor of new contacts between the EU and the Moscow-initiated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The objective is the creation of a common "economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok." The initiatives taken in Germany are being met with approval in several EU countries, including Italy and Austria. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - In the debate about eventually halting the EU's sanctions on Russia, demands to extend the measures to affect "millions of Russian citizens" are being raised in Berlin. Under no circumstances should the sanctions be lifted, according to an article in the current issue of the foreign policy periodical, "Internationale Politik." They should rather be reinforced and, for example, supplemented by "banning visas for all Russian civil servants." That is the only way the force "the Russian middle class" into a wide-ranging "protest movement" to overthrow the government. The article's author had alleged, already last year, that Russia would only make political progress, "when its laws will be installed from the outside." Whereas some specialists on Russia are agitating against easing any of the sanctions, the German government is heightening tensions between Berlin and Moscow, by announcing that the Bundeswehr is currently considering assuming the command of the NATO battalions stationed in Lithuania. In spite of the Chancellor's allegations to the contrary, this would de facto be in breach of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which, in turn, means further escalation of the conflict between the West and Russia. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Own report) - The participation of elite units of the German Bundeswehr in NATO's current "Cold Response" exercise in Norway, is a demonstration of Germany's growing interest in the Arctic. While the Bundeswehr is training in "winter warfare" skills, the German government, by its own admission, is seeking to make the polar region a "central focus of German policy." Because of global warming, the thawing ice facilitates the "mining of raw materials" as well as the "ships passage through the Arctic," thus opening up new "opportunities for the German and European economies." In the meantime, Russia has officially declared that - together with China - it seeks to turn the Northeast Passage, connecting the European North Atlantic via the Russian Arctic coastline to the Pacific Ocean, into a "transport corridor with global importance." US media are already speaking of a new phase of "competition" for "spheres of interests" and calling the Arctic a future "flash point" between Moscow and Washington. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - Berlin is mobilizing universities and intelligence services to evaluate Russian influence in Germany and Europe, while expanding its counter-propaganda. Whereas, the German government is creating its own German Institute for the Study of Russia and Eastern Europe, to serve as the "point of contact" for its future policy, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) is calling for future research efforts on Russia to include the "disclosure of Russian networks, the flow of Russian finances and its economic relations within the EU." Universities and other academic institutions, which officially are non-political bodies, should be included in these efforts. While the DGAP is moving forward and striving to promote the analysis of Russian influence in other European countries, the German government has tasked the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) with "investigating" whether Moscow is, in any way, interfering in German political debates. Counter-measures are being considered, it was reported. For example, the German-language edition of Brussels' "Disinformation Review," which makes an analysis of the media for "pro-Kremlin disinformation," will soon be published. more…