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/OSLO/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/OSLO/WASHINGTON (Own report) - A NATO war game, currently taking place in Norway, with the participation of elite units of the German Bundeswehr, includes training the deployment of nuclear arms against Russia. The exercise named "Cold Response" involves the use of B-52 bombers, particularly designed to drop nuclear bombs. According to Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, this is to provide "an extra nuclear deterrent" against Russia. Parallel to "Cold Response," US Navy nuclear submarines are training the tracking of enemy submarines in the Arctic Ocean, to counter an alleged Russian "militarization of the Arctic." The Bundeswehr, in turn, uses "Cold Response" to train its units, specialized in military operations behind enemy lines. These units include the German Special Forces Commandos (KSK), who had been involved in illegal killings in Afghanistan. The KSK, according to the Bundeswehr, accomplishes its training task in Norway "preferably with no audience and in the dark." 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…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German foreign policy experts have noticed the EU's change of tune regarding its policy towards Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. According to a representative of a German party-affiliated foundation in Brussels, EU diplomats' "patience with Kiev is noticeably coming to end" in view of Ukraine's desolate development and the oligarchs' persistent intrigues. In reference to internal debates, the foundation's representative has also confirmed that voices are growing "louder" with wishes to "renew a constructive approach" toward Moscow, "not only at the economic" but also at the political level. The same applies to the recent Normandy Format ministerial meeting on the Ukrainian crisis. The German business community is also increasing its pressure to end the sanctions, because it is missing out on too many lucrative deals with Russia. A recent survey among German entrepreneurs has revealed that only twelve percent of the respondents are in favor of maintaining sanctions. In the energy sector, which, thanks to Angela Merkels engagement, has been excluded from sanctions, the German Linde AG was able to land a three-digit million Euro deal in January. At the beginning of this year, Linde CEO Wolfgang Büchele was named Chair of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (OA). more…

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - In an interview with Germany's ARD public television, the Syrian President Bashar al Assad acknowledged Germany's role in hosting Syrian refugees and does not rule out Germany's playing an influential role in Syria's future. He "hopes" that other countries, "especially European countries" - and Germany as the strongest EU power - would "play a role" in ending the Syrian war. However, to accomplish this, they must be "independent" of the USA, Assad declared. The ARD broadcast the exclusive interview at a time when Berlin is seeking a leading role in the international Syria negotiations and preparing to enhance its influence within the framework of the eventual reconstruction of this Middle Eastern country. Meanwhile, a US think tank is strongly criticizing the West's war on the "Islamic State" (IS/Daesh). According to the military-affiliated Institute for the Study of War (ISW), it is a mistake to focus the fight on Daesh and ignore other jihadi militias, such as Jabhat al Nusra. This would only facilitate the al Qaeda subsidiary Jabhat al Nusra taking power, particularly in Northern Syria, where the jihadists have firmly established themselves in the population. Berlin would also be confronted with significantly reinforced jihadist organizations, such as Al Nusra, in the framework of the eventual reconstruction efforts. more…