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Gazprom requests Siemens for documents on Nord Stream turbine return

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Sunday, July 17, 2022
  • 149 Impressed

Gazprom requests Siemens for documents on Nord Stream turbine return

 

Dhaka July 17 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 17 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Russia requests documents on Nord Stream turbine return

 

The documents would allow the turbine to be shipped back to Russia following maintenance in Canada, despite sanctions.

Russian state energy major Gazprom has officially asked German industrial giant Siemens to provide documents allowing the return of a crucial gas turbine, which had been stuck at the firm’s Canada factory due to sanctions.

“On July 15, Gazprom officially requested Siemens to provide documents that, in spite of the current sanctions regimes of Canada and the European Union, would allow the export of a gas turbine engine for the Portovaya compressor station, a critically important facility for the [Nord Stream] gas pipeline, to Russia, and the fulfillment by the Siemens group of companies of its obligations regarding the repair and maintenance of gas turbine engines,” the statement by Gazprom read, as cited by Interfax news agency.

Gazprom warned that failure to return the turbine would jeopardise the functioning of the Nord Stream pipeline, linking Russia to Germany, and the supply of natural gas to European consumers.

The Nord Stream pipeline, one of the main routes for Russian gas exports to Europe, is currently out of action due to a scheduled 10-day maintenance period.

However, prior to the shutdown it had been operating at just 40% of capacity for several weeks, due to a turbine from the pipeline’s Portovaya compressor station being stuck at the Siemens facility in Montreal, where it had undergone repairs.

Canada initially refused to return the device, due to sanctions arising from the Ukraine conflict. However, after negotiations with Berlin, Ottawa earlier this week decided to allow the turbine to be shipped back. It will first travel to Germany, and from there to Russia, allowing Canada to avoid violating its own sanctions by using an indirect delivery route.

The documents requested by Gazprom are necessary to facilitate the final trip of the turbine from Germany to Russia.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

 

All Russian museum fund exhibits returned to country — special envoy

NIZHNIY NOVGOROD, July 16. /TASS/. Showpieces from the Russian state museum fund at exhibitions in unfriendly countries were returned to Russia, special envoy of the Russian President for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy told TASS on Saturday.

“All the exhibits in the state museum fund of the Russian Federation, all of them returned to homeland. Items left, two or three of them, in my opinion, are artworks owned by private collectors. Serious legal efforts are underway. I believe it will be possible to solve this issue eventually but this is rather difficult when their owners are under European sanctions,” the special envoy said.

About 1,500 exhibits were returned to the country from exhibitions staged overseas, the Russian Ministry of Culture said in late June.

Bank of Russia may reduce key rate on July 22 — presidential aide

The Bank of Russia reduced the key rate from 11% to 9.5% per annum at the meeting on June 10

SOLNECHNOGORSK, July 16. /TASS/. The Central Bank can make the decision to reduce the key rate at the meeting on July 22, Russian presidential aide Maxim Oreshkin said on Saturday.

“The Central Bank eased the monetary policy, the key rate went down. The Central Bank vows now that the decision on further reduction of the key rate will also be considered at the meeting on July 22,” Oreshkin said.

The Bank of Russia reduced the key rate from 11% to 9.5% per annum at the meeting on June 10.

 

Russia to get along without SWIFT — presidential aide

SOLNECHNOGORSK, July 16. /TASS/. Russia will endeavor to do so that it has no need for SWIFT, presidential aide Maxim Oreshkin said on Saturday.

“It is very simple regarding SWIFT: we will do so that there is no need for it. This is actually the key task at present, as I have already mentioned,” the official said. “We are focusing on maximizing the comfort for foreign economic activity,” Oreshkin said.

The world used the dollar and the euro because it was convenient, the presidential aide said. “The whole world was the hostage of the Western financial system because everybody got accustomed to that; it was convenient for everyone. It is fundamentally clear why Russia and China are using dollars or euros. Merely out of habit, so it has evolved, it was convenient. Now it is the situation when, vice versa, yuan [turnovers] are soaring, ruble turnovers are soaring,” Oreshkin said. “We will design such mechanisms that will further simplify the process,” he added.

 

Actions by Ukrainian Website That Endanger Children in Donbass to Be Exposed at Press Conference

Officially titled “Ukrainian Website ‘Myrotvorets’ Endangers the Lives and Wellbeing of Underage Children,” the press conference is expected to highlight the site’s handling of the personal information of children.

On July 21, the “Rossiya Segondya” International Information Agency is going to host a press conference that will shed light on how the Ukrainian website “Myrotvorets” (“Peacekeeper” or “Peacemaker”) violates the rights of underage children in Donbass.

According to information obtained by the Foundation to Battle Injustice, “Myrotvorets” has been publishing personal information of teenagers and underage children, the youngest of whom was born in 2012, for many years.

Despite the fact that these actions are inhumane and violate international law, the website continues to operate as normal and continues to add new personal information of children.

Evidence of these misdeeds is going to be presented at the press conference, and all pertinent documents will be submitted to the United Nations after the event so the Russian delegation to the UN can initiate an international investigation into the matter.

The conference’s participants will include Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the UN; Faina Savenkova, a 13-year-old writer from Lugansk and one of the children whose data was disclosed by “Myrotvorets”; and Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice non-profit organization.

The event’s organizers invite other media outlets to send their own representatives to participate in the press conference, which is officially called “Ukrainian Website ‘Myrotvorets’ Endangers the Lives and Wellbeing of Underage Children.”

The “Myrotvorets” website was launched in December 2014, following the Euromaidan coup in Kiev.

Curated by the Security Service of Ukraine, the website publishes the names and personal information of individuals deemed to be “enemies of Ukraine,” with some of those individuals subsequently ending up being assassinated.

Some of the more notable additions to the “Myrotvorets” list include former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and rock music legend Roger Waters.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Ukraine accuses top Western banks of ‘war crimes’

Kiev has demanded that giants like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Credit Agricole stop financing firms that trade Russian oil

Major global banks, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Citigroup and Credit Agricole, are “committing war crimes” by financing companies that ship Russian oil, a top Ukrainian official has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, parts of which were published late on Friday, Oleg Ustenko, economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, claimed that the financial institutions were guilty of “helping the Putin regime in this specific way,” referring to trade in Russian hydrocarbons. The revenue, in turn, is allegedly being used to fund Moscow’s offensive against its neighbor, Kiev claims.

The official also told journalists that Ukraine’s Ministry for Justice is going to sue the banks at the International Criminal Court once the conflict is over. Ustenko pointed out that Kiev’s security services are keeping tabs on those lenders, which are supporting Russian fossil fuel trade.

According to the FT, earlier this week the presidential adviser sent letters to the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Citigroup and Credit Agricole, in which Ustenko urged the financial institutions to stop providing credit to companies that trade Russian oil and sell shares in state-backed oil and gas groups Gazprom and Rosneft.

The Ukrainian official reportedly accused the banks of “prolonging” the conflict and warned they would not be allowed to take part in the postwar reconstruction of Ukraine.

The letters reportedly stressed, among other things, that HSBC’s and Credit Agricole’s asset management arms still hold shares in Gazprom and Rosneft, Russia’s state oil and gas firms. Citigroup allegedly provides credit facilities to another Russian oil and gas giant, Lukoil, as well as to Vitol, a Dutch energy company that trades in Russian oil, according to the letters seen by the FT.

JPMorgan Chase is another global bank that extends credit lines to the Dutch trader, Ustenko reportedly claimed. On top of that, Kiev believes that the lender still holds stakes in Russia’s largest majority state-owned bank, Sberbank, as well as Gazprom and Rosneft, which were all described in the letter as some of the Kremlin’s most valued economic assets.

In early July, JPMorgan Chase warned that attempts to impose a price cap on Russian oil could see global prices rise to a “stratospheric $380/bbl.”

In his letter to the bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, Ustenko insisted that JPMorgan Chase’s assessment was nothing more than “scaremongering, based on poor quality analysis,” the FT reported. The Ukrainian official also allegedly berated Dimon for referring to the situation in Ukraine as a mere “crisis.”

In a subsequent statement, JPMorgan Chase argued that it has “diligently” and actively implemented all Western sanctions against Russia.

Citigroup and Credit Agricole, while not responding directly to the Ukrainian official’s letters, reiterated statements they had issued before about suspending and paring back activities in Russia. HSBC declined to comment.

Privately, bankers revealed to journalists, however, that it has proven impossible to divest some of their Russian holdings because of the sanctions and other restrictions already in place.

Vitol, a Dutch energy trader whose name cropped up more than once in Ustenko’s letters, pointed out that it had cut its Russian oil business by 80% since late February, with the remaining volumes in full compliance with Western sanctions.

 

Italy may soon be unable to arm Ukraine – foreign minister

Luigi Di Maio has warned the current political crisis around PM Mario Draghi’s government could see an end to weapons deliveries

Political turmoil in Italy could soon see Rome unable to continue supporting Ukraine with weapons deliveries, the country’s foreign minister has warned. According to Luigi Di Maio, this would be the case should the incumbent government not survive a no-confidence vote next week. 

In a phone interview with US media outlet Politico on Friday, Di Maio said that those in Italy who want the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government are playing into the hands of the Kremlin.

“The Russians are right now celebrating having made another Western government fall,” the minister argued. 

Di Maio went on to express doubt as to whether Italy will be able to keep supplying arms to Ukraine under these circumstances, adding that “it is one of the many serious problems.”

The official explained that, should the government collapse, it would still remain in power for some time in a caretaker capacity. However, in this case, its powers would be reduced, meaning, among other things, that the government wouldn’t be able to continue weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

“If the government falls on Wednesday, we won’t have the power to sign any new energy contracts and this is serious because we are headed into winter,” the minister added.

According to Di Maio, Italy could also end up without a 2023 budget as the document is normally passed by parliament between July and December. Should there be elections in September or October, however, it could take months before a new coalition government is formed, meaning that the budget would be postponed, the minister explained. He added that it took 100 days to form a government the last time. 

On Thursday, the Five Star Movement, which is part of Prime Minister Draghi’s coalition government, boycotted a no-confidence vote, with the premier offering to resign in response. However, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella refused to accept his resignation, with Draghi’s government facing another no-confidence vote on Wednesday. 

Di Maio, who had been one of the Five Star Movement’s leaders but left the party last month over a row concerning arms deliveries to Ukraine, laid into his former allies, accusing them of “helping Putin’s propaganda and autocracy over democracy.”

The foreign minister hailed Prime Minister Draghi as one of the staunchest opponents of the Kremlin in the West, who advocated strong sanctions and the freezing of Russia’s foreign reserves following the start of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine in late February.

The Five Star Movement has attempted to weaken the incumbent Italian government on several occasions over the past few months already, the official claimed. He specifically mentioned the party’s opposition to an increase in Italy’s defense spending to meet the NATO target, as well as a resolution in parliament against NATO and Italy’s support for Ukraine.

Di Maio, however, said at the same time that a lot of other political forces and labor unions in Italy understood the importance of having a fully functioning government, meaning that Draghi hopefully could stay in power after all.

 

In Germany, inflation forces protest attitudes — Readovka.world

Dockworkers clash with police as demonstrations take place

Hamburg dockworkers came out to mass protest, demanding better working conditions. Because of the uncontrolled soaring prices, they do not have enough money to feed their families. They have already been offered a salary raise by 7% during the year, but considering growing inflation, this is not enough, and the protesters are demanding an increase of 12-14%.

The situation is tense – workers are fighting with the police, law enforcement officers are using pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators. Casualties reported.

 

West wrong to use cold war techniques against Russia — Readovka.world

If we look at the Ukrainian conflict objectively, «not through Eurocentric glasses», it becomes obvious that the world system is breaking down, and events are taking a completely different turn than Western leaders expected. The fighting has dragged on against Western expectations, and has created geopolitical and economic consequences that already threaten the stability of Europe, writes Arnaud Benedetti, a columnist for the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

Russian troops are advancing, Russia has not remained isolated in the diplomatic arena, and sanctions have simply failed and are now turning on their initiators. After the price hike, the surge in the ruble and the weakening of the euro against the dollar, the economic future appears in a negative light.

As Benedetti writes, the French economy is threatened by recession and the growth of the national debt up to 150% of GDP. Because of the sharp increase in the refinancing rate, France’s public debt is rising sharply and this becomes the starting point of a socio-political collapse at a time when all Eurozone countries are caught up in the vortex of a world order reset.

According to Benedetti, the greatest danger lies in Europe’s inability to recognize the inevitable changes. The West has made the biggest mistake of all, trying to repeat with Russia the same techniques that were once effective against the Soviet Union.

Many politicians, media people and intellectuals in the West continue to live in the logic of the Cold War and do not understand: Russia is no longer a communist country, and the old methods do not work. The main difference between today’s Russia and the USSR is that its economy is not so vulnerable. Moreover, Russia is not alone; it has a strategic ally, China, whose economic weight reminds Europeans that they are no longer central to the global economy.

The West could not see that the real Russia is different from the image Washington has been trying to impose on it since the 1980s. In addition, Western politicians are blinded by a complex of superiority over the Soviet Union, which they habitually transfer to Russia.

Because of this dubious complex, politicians do not see the tectonic shifts that are taking place today in the depths of entire civilizations, and not understanding them, in Europe they cannot understand the events taking place in the national arenas either.

According to the author, France risks being the most vulnerable country in the impending «reset» of the world. According to him, «the West is behaving like a child» at a moment when events demand that its leaders rise to the occasion.

«The most important historical turnaround in many years is taking place. Carelessness, whether it be Johnson’s antics, Trudeau’s postmodernism, Biden’s amusing senility, or Macron’s endless babbling, is not the most appropriate behavior as we enter a new era», – he writes.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Russia’s defense minister pays surprise visit to Ukraine

Sergey Shoigu has met with Russian commanding officers, discussing ways and means to stop Ukrainian attacks on Donbass civilians

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has inspected Russian troops involved in the ongoing military operation in neighboring Ukraine, the ministry revealed on Saturday.

Shoigu met the commanding officers of the ‘South’ and ‘Center’ troops, Army General Sergey Surovikin and Colonel General Alexander Lapin, as well as other senior commanding officers.

“The head of the Russian defense ministry gave the necessary instructions to ramp up the actions of groups in all operational areas in order to exclude the possibility of the Kiev regime to launch massive rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements across Donbass and other regions,” the military said in a statement.

The minister also awarded Gold Star medals to Lapin and Major General Esedulla Abachev for “courage and heroism” throughout the ongoing conflict. The decree to present the officers with the top state awards had been signed earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the military noted.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Shoigu orders to prevent all Ukrainian rocket assaults on cities in Donbass

MOSCOW, July 16. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has ordered to enhance country’s military groupings Yug (South) and Center to prevent the Ukrainian military from delivering massive rocket attacks on the cities of Donbass and other regions, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the ministry, Shoigu paid an inspection visit earlier to the Yug and Center military groupings, which are involved in Russia’s special military operation in Donbass.

Shoigu listened to reports on Saturday delivered by commanders of the Yug (South) and Center military groupings taking part in the country’s special military operation in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu paid an inspection visit to Russia’s military groupings Yug and South, which are implementing tasks of the special military operation in Ukraine,” the statement said.

According to the ministry, the reports on the current state of affairs in the special military operation were delivered by Army General Sergey Surovikin, in charge of the Yug military grouping, and Central Military District Commander Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, in charge of the Center military grouping.

The situation at the line of engagement in Donbass escalated on February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) reported the most massive bombardments by the Ukrainian military in recent months, which damaged civilian infrastructure and caused civilian casualties.

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia signed agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders. Russia recognized the Donbass republics in accordance with the DPR and LPR constitutions within the boundaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of the beginning of 2014.

Russian President Putin announced on February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics for assistance he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, noting that the operation was aimed at the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.

The DPR and the LPR launched an operation to liberate their territories under Kiev’s control.

 

Kiev wants to strike Crimea with US-supplied missiles

The peninsula is a crucial military hub for Russia, Ukraine’s military intelligence believes

Kiev sees the Crimean Peninsula as a major military hub and a legitimate target for long-range weaponry by the West, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defense, Vadim Skibitskiy, said Saturday.

The official made the remarks as he appeared live on TV channel 1+1, having been asked whether Ukraine could use US-made М142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket systems to strike Crimea.

“Today, the Crimean Peninsula has become a hub for the movement of all equipment and weapons that come from the Russian Federation to the south of our state. It is, first of all, a cluster of military hardware, ammunition and materials that are concentrated in the Crimea, and then sent in to supply the Russian occupying forces,” Skibitskiy stated.

Kiev is also seeking to attack the warships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, stationed in Crimea, Skibitskiy went on. The warships are being used to launch cruise missiles and therefore are “among the targets that must be hit in order to ensure the safety of citizens, our installations and Ukraine in general,” he explained.

The threat comes a day after Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov announced that Kiev has received its first M270 MLRS systems. The official did not elaborate on whether the systems have already been deployed on the battlefield, nor from where exactly they’d arrived. Earlier, London had pledged to supply at least three systems of the type.

М142 and M270 are effectively two variants of the same system. Tracked M270 lacks mobility of the truck-based HIMARS, yet carries twice the 277mm launch tubes – 12 as against six.

Still, the systems lack the range necessary to outright strike Russia’s Crimean Peninsula. The systems, however, can be fitted with Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) modules to launch heavier missiles, boasting ranges of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles).

While Kiev has been looking to obtain such long-range munitions, Washington appears to be reluctant to deliver them over fears they would be used to hit deep into Russian territory and greatly escalate the ongoing conflict. Crimea, however, appears to be a special case, given that neither Washington nor Kiev recognizes it as an integral part of Russia. Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia in March 2014, following the US-backed Maidan coup in Kiev.

Kiev appears to be fixated on targeting Crimea as a whole and, specifically, the Kerch bridge, constructed to simplify the connection to the Russian mainland. Destroying the bridge has been repeatedly floated as an idea by top Ukrainian officials over the past few months despite the fact that Moscow has seized the southeast of Ukraine, establishing an overland connection to Crimea.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

INSIGHTS

Arab Summit: Biden Vows to ‘Not Walk Away’ From Middle East, Yield to Russia, China

Oleg Burunov, Sputnik news

The Jeddah Summit for Security and Development brings an end to Joe Biden’s Middle East tour, which kicked off earlier this week amid reports that Gulf nations, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are seeking the US’ concrete commitment to improve mutual ties.

US President Joe Biden has pledged that Washington plans to remain fully engaged in the Middle East and will not yield regional clout to other world powers.

“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran. We will seek to build on this moment with active, principled, American leadership,” Biden said during a summit in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Saturday.

The Jeddah Summit for Security and Development, which was the final stop on Biden’s Middle East tour, brought together the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Biden’s remarks followed US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan saying on Friday that POTUS would “lay out clearly” his vision and strategy for US engagement in the Middle East during the GCC+3 summit.

The statement came amid reports that GCC states are seeking a clear-cut commitment from the US to bolster strategic ties that have been tarnished over Washington’s alleged disengagement from the region. GCC nations refused to side with the West against Russia in the Ukraine conflict.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, for their part, have reportedly been frustrated by US conditions on arms sales, as well as for having been excluded from indirect Washington-Tehran talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Similarly, the US has repeatedly pushed the UAE to drop China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from its telecommunications network. Washington claims that the technology could pose a security risk for a suspended multi-billion dollar deal to buy the US-made F-35 fighter jets, in a sign of the UAE’s growing frustration with the US’ efforts to limit Chinese technology sales to the Gulf nation.

As for Saudi Arabia, earlier this week, Reuters cited unnamed sources claiming that the Biden administration is considering lifting a ban on US sales of offensive weapons to the kingdom. The sources added that any final decision would depend on whether Riyadh makes progress toward ending the armed conflict in neighboring Yemen.

At the same time, insiders claim that “the internal US deliberations are informal and at an early stage, with no decision imminent”. According to them, there are no discussions on offensive weapons between Washington and Riyadh under way “at this time.”

Since March 2015, the Saudi-led Arab alliance, in cooperation with former Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s forces, has been conducting air, land and sea operations against the Houthis. The protracted conflict has left more than 300,000 dead and brought about a major humanitarian crisis.

Washington’s February 2021 announcement that it would no longer support the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen, cutting sales of precision-guided munitions (PGM) to Riyadh, further added to strained ties between Saudi Arabia and the US. Bilateral relations were earlier tarnished by the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

In June, senior US officials signaled the White House’s readiness to “reset” the bilateral relationship and move on from the Khashoggi murder in order to mend ties with Washington’s crucial Middle East ally.

Khashoggi went missing in October 2018 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of the journalist’s whereabouts, but eventually admitted that he had been killed inside the diplomatic mission’s building in a “rogue operation.” The Saudi government sentenced several people over their role in the murder and has repeatedly rejected allegations that members of the royal family were involved.

 

Alexander Davydov: Germany has abandoned decades of balancing both Russia and US, how long will it survive on its new path?

By Alexander Davydov, co-chairman of German Studies Club NSO MGIMO, Moscow

Germany’s new leadership has gone ‘all in’ on its alliance with the US, overturning a strategy that had underpinned its success

What was known as the “memory culture” was an essential element of the foreign policy strategy of post-war Germany. Wise leaders were able to gradually restore the importance of the country on the international stage and achieve strategic goals.

A prime example was Chancellor Willy Brandt’s ‘Ostpolitik,’ based on ideas of repentance and overcoming post-war enmity. The historical reconciliation between Bonn and the USSR became the basis for the future unification of Germany – solving the main task of the country’s political elites after the end of World War II.

However, less gifted politicians find historical memory a handicap and a hardship. For neighbours, the ambitions of German leadership in Europe bring back painful memories. Indeed, historical documents such as the Treaty of German Unification, limit the military capabilities of the state – which is a direct obstacle to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s dream for the creation of “the strongest army in Europe.”

Today, the image of a peace-loving nation that has re-educated itself after the tragedy of two world wars does not fit well with active arms deliveries to Ukraine.

“This war must end,” Scholz recently warned, while in Kiev. Meanwhile, his government’s website is regularly updated with information on weapons already delivered and planned to be delivered to the Ukrainians. This is what you might call a paradox.

Let’s look at some of the rhetoric coming out of Berlin. On June 21, on the eve of Russia’s Day of Remembrance and Sorrow, Economy Minister Robert Habeck called the reduction of Russian gas supplies “an attack on Germany.” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has claimed that “Russia deliberately uses hunger as a weapon.”

By the way, behind the unfounded lies are real historical data – more than four million Soviet citizens were starved to death during the Nazi occupation.

At the G7 summit last month, Scholz called on participants to prepare a new “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine, twisting the meaning of the programme that helped Western Europe recover from the horrors of fascism. It feels like a policy of remembrance is being replaced by a policy of deliberate amnesia.

The “change of epochs” proclaimed by Scholz at the end of February means one thing so far: Berlin is abandoning everything before that time. In relations with Russia, even the modest achievements of the past have become the subject of censure, and Moscow’s calls for a European system of indivisible security are perceived as fantastical ideas.

The culture of cancellation prevails over the historicism of diplomacy. Berlin’s reluctance to put politics into a historical context demonstrates the absence of self-determined goal-setting and a coherent strategy.

Before the election, the incoming chancellor promised a renewed foreign policy in the spirit of his predecessor and fellow party member Brandt. Previously, Germany’s eastern policy, complex and controversial, confirmed that the government could find a delicate balance between values and interests: maintain allied solidarity in the EU and NATO, but keep space for dialogue with “opponents of the collective West.” In other words, argue over political and moral issues while developing mutually beneficial commercial projects.

Scholz’s approach is the opposite of what Willy Brandt and his followers worked on. Berlin has finally narrowed the once dynamic and multifaceted eastern policy solely in support of Kiev. In international relations, however, simplification rarely reduces contradictions.

This sort of primitivization does not add credibility to the German leadership, but it does raise doubts about its competence.

The granting of EU candidate status to Ukraine, actively supported by Berlin, could also turn out to be an embarrassment. And it is not just about the five other official members of the waiting list and several potential contenders, who have been waiting or are still waiting years for this decision, all the while trying to fulfil the EU’s strict requirements. In Germany’s foreign policy approach, showmanship and symbolism are gradually replacing order and consistency.

After all, on a more practical level, everyone recognises that Ukraine’s real participation in the European Union is impossible and it is unclear whether it will ever become tangible at all.

The unique path that the peoples of Germany and Russia took together after WW2 demanded repentance on the one hand and forgiveness on the other. Now, for the sake of “allied solidarity,” Germany is sacrificing the fruits of this painstaking shared work.

Indeed, Berlin would probably be prepared to turn its back on other countries if its allies demanded it. For example, China – Germany’s main trading partner for the past six years – will instantly become an irreconcilable enemy if the US-China stand-off escalates.

Was it possible to expect a different reaction from the Germans to the events now taking place? More balanced statements from cabinet members and less aggressive headlines in their house journal, Der Spiegel?

Partly, the current turnaround is the flip side of the course that has been the basis of German policy up to now. Berlin had systematically reduced the importance of the Bundeswehr after unification, based on the irreversibility of the so-called “end of history” and, as a result, was totally unprepared for the dramatically changed politico-military realities of today. Moreover, very few expected that Russia would move from years of exhortations, which could be ignored, to decisive action. The decades-long rejection of Realpolitik in favour of a values-based approach and the willingness to put the remaining questions of strategic security under US and NATO control predetermined Berlin’s reaction to current events. At the moment it is not so much aggression as confusion.

“Solidarity with allies and distortion of history is a safe haven for a government that planned to devote itself to an environmentalist and virtue-signalling foreign policy in 2022, rather than renewing the army and supplying arms to the conflict region.”

The German leadership believes it simply cannot afford not to be on what it thinks is the “right side of history,” as Scholz called it in February. Because otherwise the entire political and ideological basis of the cabinet would crumble and it would prompt questions about its adequacy.

“German foreign policy has stood on one leg since 1949. We face another challenge: not to pursue a policy of maneuvering, but to stand on the second leg as well, based on friendship with the West and negotiating every step with our Western friends, which is called an Eastern policy,” Brandt once outlined. By taking a shot at the “second leg,” Berlin continues to stand firmly on the first one. The question is whether it is possible to get far on just one leg.

 

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