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 | | syrien

BERLIN/DAMASCUS (Own report) - Berlin and the EU are seeking to use Syria's hardships for leverage to gain influence on that country's political development. Berlin will provide humanitarian aid for the Syrian population, German Foreign Minster Heiko Maas announced at yesterday's Syria conference in Brussels - aid that is also seen as helpful in preventing a new wave of mass migration to the EU. However, aid for the country's reconstruction will only be granted, if Damascus makes political concessions, Maas declared. Berlin considers reconstruction aid a promising lever, because Syria, most likely, will not be able to raise the more than €200 billion necessary, and its closest partners, Russia and Iran are low on funds due to the western economic sanctions. Experts warn that, for example, in Raqqa, under the control of Syrian opposition forces and the USA, another insurgency could develop should reconstruction continue to be delayed. A US journalist calls Raqqa's level of destruction the worst he has ever seen in the Middle East. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Germany's defense minister reaffirmed that Berlin is basically ready to participate in military aggressions, such as the recent western attack on Syria. "We could also fulfill the contribution from the air that Great Britain had made in this case," said Ursula von der Leyen, but "we weren't asked this time." She made this declaration in full knowledge of the fact that the Reference and Research Service of the German Bundestag - like numerous other legal experts - had classified that attack a clear violation of international law. According to the expert assessment of the parliamentary jurists, it was a "retaliation" patterned after military interventions preceding the First World War. Legality was not the justification for those attacks, but rather a subjective political moral legitimation. Claiming "legitimacy," other countries may also decide to engage in military aggressions, warn experts. Admitting such a change of paradigm would cause "more, rather than less human suffering." more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - With intense shuttle diplomacy, members of the German government are seeking to avert the impending US punitive tariffs on European goods and the loss of access to the important US market. Following Germany's Finance Minster Olaf Scholz's visit to the US capital yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Washington on Friday. Already in the run up to these visits, Berlin seems ready to envisage a revival of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This strategic decision is accompanied by a clear frontline position against China, as was resolutely demanded by the Trump administration. In addition, German-Russian business relations are increasingly under attack in Washington. At the same time, EU criticism of Germany's unilateral trade policies is growing. Germany's export oriented economy is particularly vulnerable to the protectionism that is gaining strength on a global scale. Berlin's Beggar-thy-Neighbor-Policy could prove a strategic disadvantage under these new global economic conditions. 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…