In the Spiral of Sanctions

Berlin and Brussels plan harsh economic sanctions against Belarus. Foreign Minister Maas calls for the country's disconnection from the SWIFT payment system.

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/MINSK | | belarus

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/MINSK (Own report) - With a discussion of various drastic economic sanctions, Berlin and the EU are initiating their next round in the battle to topple Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. German Foreign Minster Heiko Maas calls not only for weighing punitive measures against Belarusian companies, but also for the country's exclusion from the SWIFT international payment system, which, according to experts, could lead to a massive collapse in the Belarusian economy - as it had once done in Iran. Of course, sanctions could also be damaging for one's own side, observers warn. Boycotting Belaruskali, for example, could cause serious problems for the farmers in EU countries. Luxemburg's Foreign Minster Jean Asselborn is quoted saying that the West might have to make “a little sacrifice.” The impending sanctions initiate the next round of more than two decades of Berlin, Brussels and Washington's attempts to topple Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. more…

Putsch in the Theater of Operations

Berlin and Paris are relying on a military solution, even after the putsch in Mali. More civilians are killed by military in the Sahel, than by jihadis.

BERLIN/BAMAKO | | mali

BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) - Following the coup in Mali, politicians in Berlin are pushing to enhance the influence of Germany and the EU in the Sahel. Brussels should be engaged "more vigorously for the security in West Africa," admonished CDU/CSU Defense Policy Spokesperson in the Bundestag Henning Otte. The Bundestag had already approved an increase in personnel for the training units in Mali. German troops in northern Mali will be provided with an additional drone. France seeks also to commit more troops. The Sahel's increasing militarization has led to a constantly growing number of civilians being killed by regular soldiers. While the EU is training Mali's armed forces, Malian soldiers are massacring villagers. The coup itself is the result of a dynamic stemming from the population's indignation toward the corruption of Mali's elites, who are cooperating with European powers. This development is quite similar to that in Afghanistan. more…

Carrot and Stick

German Green Party: Climate protection is "historic opportunity" for the business location Germany. Retired general: Green foreign policy lowers "threshold" for military interventions.

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The German Green Party (Alliance 90/The Greens) is preparing for the election campaign of its chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock by advocating arming Ukraine against Russia and proposing support for important branches of the German industry. One cannot refuse the delivery of alleged defensive weapons to Ukraine, according to Green Party Chair Robert Habeck. At the same time, the Party calls for close cooperation with the Biden administration and insists on a commitment to NATO membership, as a prerequisite for future coalition negotiations. While German business circles are increasing their pressure on the party by warning against an alleged "dirigiste concept of government" by the Greens, the party is depicting the climate protection, it promotes, as a "historic opportunity" for German industry, one that will ultimately boost the competitiveness of the "business location Germany." A retired Bundeswehr general warns that the Green Party's foreign and military policy concepts significantly lower the "threshold" of future military interventions. more…

Quod licet Iovi...

EU imposes new sanctions on Belarus. A similar interference in civilian aviation by several EU and/or NATO states in 2013 remains without consequences.

BERLIN/MINSK | | belarus

BERLIN/MINSK (Own report) - The EU is imposing new sanctions on Belarus in response to the forced stopover in Minsk of a Ryanair flight and the subsequent arrest of a Belarusian exiled opposition activist. The sanctions include banning Belarusian airlines from using EU airspace and additional economic sanctions. The reactions are in blatant contrast to those following a similar incident in July 2013, when several EU states suddenly closed their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivia's President Evo Morales, forcing it to land in Vienna, where the plane was inspected in violation of international norms. In this case, the United States had assumed that whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board and had planned to have him arrested during the forced stopover. The plan failed only because Snowden had remained in Russia. Berlin and the EU had voiced no protest. The current reactions can be explained by the fact that the Minsk action plunged the entire western-patronized Belarusian opposition in exile into disarray. more…

The Militarization of the Arctic

NATO states expand their military maneuvers and bases in the Arctic - against Russia. German Bundeswehr also involved.

BERLIN/REYKJAVÍK/OSLO |

BERLIN/REYKJAVÍK/OSLO (Own report) - Growing military tensions in the Artic overshadow today's Arctic Council ministerial meeting. In recent years, the Arctic has increasingly become the theater of global rivalries. The melting of the polar ice facilitates access to natural resources and opens new maritime trade routes, thus exacerbating competition between the states involved. At the same time, Russia's Arctic coast is gradually losing its protective barrier of ice and extreme cold and is becoming vulnerable. Moscow feels compelled to reinforce its defenses and has built new military bases in its Arctic regions. German government advisors concede that Moscow's approach is "fundamentally defensive." However, according to NATO, today Russia poses a "threat" to the entire region. With the active support of Berlin and the Bundeswehr, the war alliance is accelerating the militarization of the Arctic Ocean. NATO member Norway has announced that the largest maneuver in the Arctic since the end of the Cold War will be held in 2022. more…

Hush Money Instead of Reparations

Ovaherero and Nama protest the "reconciliation agreement" between Germany and Namibia: reparations for the genocide not intended.

BERLIN/WINDHOEK | | namibia

BERLIN/WINDHOEK (Own report) - The legitimate representatives of the Ovaherero and Nama are raising strong protest against an alleged "reconciliation agreement" between Berlin and Windhoek, regarding the genocide perpetrated against their ancestors. According to reports, the agreement provides for Germany recognizing the genocide as such for the first time - however, only "historically and politically," explicitly excluding legal consequences. This irritating distinction would mean that Germany can refuse reparations, while saving face. Should Windhoek agree, Berlin would simply promise to raise the funds for development aid, thus terminating reparation demands once and for all. Ovaherero, as well as Nama, are not inclined to simply accept the deal, which will also need the Namibian president's official approval. This is a "public relations coup by Germany and an act of betrayal by the Namibian government," they declared, explicitly calling on the United Nations to reject the German "gimmick." more…

The Pandemic as an Opportunity

Berlin campaigns for "mRNA Center Germany" during the pandemic. BioNTech rakes in billions in profits and aims at global expansion.

BERLIN/MAINZ |

BERLIN/MAINZ (Own report) - The German government is seizing on the struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic to help German biotech companies become world champions in the mRNA future technology. BioNTech, located in Mainz, is the main beneficiary. Under pressure from Berlin, and against resistance from Paris, the company has been given a de facto monopoly for supplying the EU in the future, while a French competitor was left out in the cold. Because the BioNTech's vaccine is several times more expensive than those of other companies, poorer EU-member states in East and Southeast Europe must now pay huge sums to the German company. Whereas other companies are supplying vaccines at their cost prices during the acute phase of the pandemic, BioNTech has made a net profit of €1.13 billion during the first quarter of 2021 alone. It is now using this profit to expand - aided by the fact that Berlin is blocking vaccine patent waivers. With the rise of BioNTech, Germany can hope to achieve a leading position as a biotech center. It is suggested that Germany is already "one of the world's centers of gravity" for mRNA technology. more…

Global Vaccine Rivalries

Berlin continues to reject Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver. Washington pursues geo-strategic objectives with its call to suspend patents.

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Berlin and the EU are blocking temporary suspension of Covid-19 vaccine patents, even after the US changed its position on the issue. Following the recent EU summit, Chancellor Angela Merkle und European Council President Charles Michel declared that they do not believe that waving patents would be the appropriate step for increased vaccine production. Berlin is particularly worried about BioNTech's mRNA patents. With its patents, the company is expected to significantly contribute to Germany as a biotechnological address. Thus, China should not get its hands on the patents, Chancellor Angela Merkle is quoted to have said. With its move to wave patents, the Biden administration is also taking the competition with China into account. Since India can no longer export vaccines, due to the pandemic's escalation in that country, poorer and emerging countries have been supplied almost exclusively by China and Russia - including with the licenses to produce their own vaccines. Patent waivers could break the Sino-Russian vaccine dominance. more…

"A Signal to China"

EU set to revive free-trade talks with India. Meager western Covid-19 aid sparks criticism in India of Hindu-nationalist's westward orientation.

BERLIN/NEW DELHI | | indien

BERLIN/NEW DELHI (Own report) - Despite the murderous escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, the EU continues to refuse a vaccine patent waiver, pushing instead for a free-trade agreement with that country. The EU-India summit on Saturday is expected to decide on reviving respective negotiations with the intention of making India a business alternative to China. The EU's demands traditionally include the agrarian sector's deregulation, which provoked the current mass protests of Indian farmers. German business representatives urge caution against too strong of a focus on business with India: Efforts to expand this business have failed already in the past due to India's excessive red tape and poor infrastructure. Government measures have also repeatedly disregarded the interests of foreign investors, according to the Federation of German Industries (BDI). In view of the meager Western aid for combating the pandemic, demands are becoming louder among India's elite for repudiating the governing Hindu nationalists' pro-US orientation and calling for a return to non-alignment. more…

"Peace with Russia No Moral Obligation"

German foreign policy advisors insist on escalating confrontation with Russia: embargo, exclusion from SWIFT, military intimidation.

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German foreign policy makers and government advisors are calling for escalating western aggression against Russia. "We must hit Russia, there, where it really hurts," admonishes foreign policy expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP). Experts at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) support military activities - such as "a military mission in the Black Sea" - as "foreign policy intimidation" of Moscow. Disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT global payment system should also be considered. According to EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell, the EU must "be prepared for a long and hard period in our relations with Russia." German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer claims that Moscow is already engaged in "warfare in the middle of Europe." The Russian government, on the other hand, is beginning to defend itself against the EU's sanctions and other coercive measures. At the end of last week, Moscow imposed counter-sanctions on several EU politicians. The conflict is escalating. more…