(auf deutsch: Streit um die Russland-Sanktionen

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Dispute over Sanctions on Russia (I)


(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.
"Inexcusably Gentle"
Vladislav Inozemtsev, currently Director of Moscow's "Center for Post-Industrial Studies," and who, last year, had been a "Berthold Beitz Fellow" at the "Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia" of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), is calling for a dramatic reinforcement of EU Sanctions against Russia. In his article in the current issue of the DGAP journal "Internationale Politik," the leading foreign policy publication of the German establishment, Inozemtsev alleges that the EU's sanctions against Russia are "inexcusably gentle ..., in comparison with those applied to Iran or North Korea." This must be changed. Because the EU's business with Russia has dramatically slumped over the past few years, "the Europeans could increase pressure on Moscow without fearing major economic damage to themselves," writes Inozemtsev. Russia could hardly survive "similarly broad" sanctions, such as the EU's punitive measures applied to Iran or even North Korea. "Putin probably would not even last a year. ... This is why I advocate taking a more confrontational course and dramatically raise the pressure on the rulers."[1]
Sanctions against Millions
In his article in "Internationale Politik," Inozemtsev, who is currently also a non-resident Senior Fellow at Washington's "Atlantic Council," made concrete proposals for reinforcing the sanctions. For example, the punitive measures should "only be lifted, if Ukraine regains its full sovereignty over the regions currently under the control of the rebels" - a demand that would implicitly result in the nullification of the Minsk Ceasefire Agreements. Inozemtsev also insists that banks in EU member nations be obligated "to divest their portfolio investments in Russia." In addition, the EU should adopt a memorandum "stipulating that EU member states should reduce their imports of Russian gas by 10 to 20 percent annually." Brussels could forbid Russian citizens "to establish enterprises within the EU;" it could "cancel their rights to dispose of bank accounts with more than 10,000 Euros deposit capital," or rule "that, for example, Russian-owned real estate must be sold by January 1, 2018." "A visa ban on all Russian civil servants" could be considered. In principle, the sanctions should be "designed in such a way that they affect millions of Russian citizens." This is the only way "the Russian middle class" can be wedged into a broad "protest movement" to overthrow the government.[2]
"Win the Second Cold War"
Recently Inozemtsev has been cropping up in foreign policy circles with outright appeals to overthrow of the Russian government. In 2012, when he was asked about the situation in Russia, he confirmed that "the majority of the population is satisfied, they have never lived as normally as they do now." "In essence, Russia is a free country." Therefore, in its relations with Moscow Berlin should "concentrate on its economic interests."[3] However, last year, he advocated a radical disavowal of his previous pleas in favor of economic cooperation, demanding that the West should "mobilize the necessary resources to win the second cold war." Draconian boycott measures could be considered as one of the means. "Much more attention" should be paid to those who oppose the brutal escalation policy - Inozemtsev refers to them using the slur à la mode, "Putin-Versteher" (Putin apologists). "It is absolutely necessary to run thorough checks on the financial interests of such groups and their business ties to Russia." Any organization that receives support from the Russian state or Russian citizens should be labelled “aggressor’s agent.” According to Inozemtsev, "Russia will become a 'normal' country only when its laws will be installed from the outside."[4] This is an open appeal for the West to subjugate Russia in colonial style.
Bundeswehr to Lithuania
While Inozemtsev and other experts on Russia are campaigning against loosening or even lifting the sanctions against Russia within the German political establishment, Berlin's announcements of new militarization measures are fueling tensions with Moscow. Last Friday, Angela Merkel confirmed that the government is considering sending German soldiers to Lithuania to command a NATO battalion. This would be an aspect of the deployment of new western battalions in Poland and the Baltic countries, as was decided by the western war alliance in February and would intensify military pressure on Russia. The Bundeswehr has already taken a leading role in the establishment of a NATO-"spearhead" in East and Southeast Europe.[5] It has also significantly increased German personnel in the Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, Poland, which plays a leading role in NATO maneuvers and operations in Eastern Europe. The Bundeswehr has also been heavily involved in combat exercises in Poland and the Baltic countries.[6] Should the German military also assume leading roles in the establishment of NATO battalions in Lithuania, Berlin would continue to play a decisive role in establishing a western military front in Eastern and Southeastern Europe targeting Moscow.
The End of the Founding Act
If troops are stationed, it would mean, de facto, the breach of the 1997 NATO - Russia Founding Act., The Founding Act stipulates - albeit in less precise wording - that NATO will not "station combat troops on a permanent basis" [7] east of the traditional cold war territory of the alliance. Berlin contends that German troops being assigned to Lithuania would not be in violation of the Founding Act text, if the soldiers are "rotated," in other words, constantly exchanged, rather than "permanently stationed." However, this cannot hide the fact that the NATO battalions, due to be stationed in all of the Baltic states, will constitute a composite "permanent stationing." With this move, Berlin could be dealing a fatal blow to the long-since teetering NATO - Russia Founding Act. The consequences would be a further erosion of the relations between western countries and Moscow. The danger of an uncontrollable escalation would, thereby, be further increased.
Apparent Contradictions
Parallel to the escalation policy, pressure to reduce or even phase out the sanctions is growing in several EU countries - including Germany. german-foreign-policy.com will report tomorrow Tuesday.
[1], [2] Vladislav Inozemtsev: Zeit für eine moralische Entscheidung. In: Internationale Politik Mai/Juni 2016, S. 20-25.
[3] Ex-Medwedew-Berater Inosemzew: "Russland können Sie als Demokratie vergessen". www.spiegel.de 23.11.2012.
[4] Vladislav L. Inozemtsev: Russia of 2010s: How to Live with It and How to Outlive It. DGAPkompakt Nr. 7, June 2015. See To Win the Second Cold War.
[5] See 21st Century Warfare (I)21st Century Warfare (II) and Message to the World.
[6] Berlin bereit zur Stärkung der Ostflanke. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.04.2016.
[7] Grundakte über Gegenseitige Beziehungen, Zusammenarbeit und Sicherheit zwischen der Nordatlantikvertrags-Organisation und der Russischen Föderation. www.nato.int.

Dispute over Sanctions on Russia (II)


(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.
Growing Discontent
Demands to abandon the sanctions policy against Moscow have been growing louder in various EU member countries, such as Italy, for which Russia is one of its most important business partners. Already in mid-March, the foreign ministers of Italy and Hungary had opposed an automatic prolongation of the sanctions without a debate. Following talks in Moscow in early April, the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, announced he was also working toward halting the punitive measures.[1] Last week, France's National Assembly passed a plea to end the sanctions.[2] Anger is also apparent in Greece. Moreover, resistance is growing within German business circles, who, if the sanctions are soon lifted, hope for a new start of their business with Eastern Europe. Exports to Russia have plummeted from an annual volume of 39 billion Euros to less that 22 billion, since 2012 alone. If sanctions are lifted, German companies are counting on being able to redeem at least part of these losses.
From Lisbon to Vladivostok
Similar views were recently expressed at the "East Forum Berlin," convened by the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (OA) together with the Metro Group and Italy's UniCredit, for the fourth time in the German capital. More than 400 participants - including the recently fired Ukrainian Minister of Finances, Natalie Jaresko, and Russia's First Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Alexey Likhachev - discussed the development of an "economic space extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok." In a survey of 180 participants of this top-rank forum, more than 80 percent clearly favored negotiations between the EU and the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on the establishment of a common "economic space."[3] They found sympathetic listeners. In his "East Forum," opening speech, State Secretary in Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Stephan Steinlein, confirmed that the German government supports "contacts between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union." "Technical standards, trade rules, cross-border infrastructure and simplified exchange procedures" should be discussed.[4] Sanctions against Russia was another important issue discussed at the East Forum. Thirty five percent of those surveyed predicted an end to the sanctions in the course of this year, while 27 percent predicted 2017. Only slightly more than a third thought the sanctions would last longer than 2017.
A New Start Required
Last week, Hamburg's Koerber Foundation, one of Germany's foreign policy organizations, which has promoted closer cooperation between Germany and Russia for years, took a stand. "Dialogue and understanding" between the two countries have, "for decades, been an important element of our work," declared the foundation. Currently, "with its focus on 'Russia in Europe,' the Koerber Foundation devotes itself to the rejuvenation of an open, critical, and constructive dialogue between Russia and its European neighbors."[5] Within this framework, the organization convokes a "German-Russian International Dialogue" twice annually, in which experts and politicians of the two countries can discuss "questions of European security and EU-Russia relations in a confidential atmosphere" in Moscow or Berlin."[6] The Koerber Foundation reached the conclusion after its most recent meeting, which took place December 5, 2015 in Moscow, that "the EU-Russian relations require a new start." In this sense, "future dialogue should focus on interests and explore against this backdrop the possibilities for cooperation." "Economic issues" are "an area of common interests that provide specific opportunities for cooperation."
Desired Rapprochement
To underline its quest, the Koerber Foundation has just recently published the results of a representative survey conducted on its behalf in both Germany and Russia by TNS Infratest in late February and early March. The survey shows that two years after escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, a significant estrangement between the populations of the two countries can be noticed. 48% of the Germans perceive Russia as a "threat," only 50% believe - emphatically - that Russia belongs to "Europe." More than half of the German population considers the EU's policy toward Russia as "appropriate." However, when asked which country Germany should work more closely with, 81% of those 1000 Germans, participating in the survey, opted for Russia - in second place behind France (89%) and far ahead of the USA (59%). In Russia, 62% of the respondents chose Germany as their favorite cooperation partner (ahead of China and France with 61% each). 69% of the Germans favor lifting the sanctions on Russia. And lastly, 95% believe that it is "important" or "very important" that Germany and Russia develop closer relations over the next few years.[7]
The Benefit of Cooperation
A first step toward rapprochement was actually accomplished on April 20, with the NATO-Russia Council's first meeting in two years - promoted particularly by the German government. After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke of "profound and persistent disagreements." But he also confirmed that the dialog would be continued.[8] Berlin therefore succeeded in reviving the dialog between Moscow and the western war alliance. At the same time, the German chancellor has announced a de facto permanent deployment of German soldiers - as part of a NATO battalion - in Lithuania. This would be a breach of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and would further escalate the conflict between the West and Russia.[9] Russian protests against this deployment would, more than likely, be easier to placate within a NATO-Russia Council than in the absence of an established framework for dialog - a tactical advantage for a highly profitable economic cooperation.
For more information on the subject of sanctions against Russian see: Dispute over Sanctions on Russia (I).
[1] Russland-Sanktionen: Fischer "loyal" zu EU-Linie. diepresse.com 06.04.2016.
[2] L'Assemblée nationale demande la levée des sanctions contre la Russie. www.latribune.fr 28.04.2016.
[3] 4. east forum Berlin mit Rekordbeteiligung. www.ost-ausschuss.de 19.04.2016.
[4] Keynote von Staatssekretär Stephan Steinlein bei der Eröffnung des 4. east forum Berlin am 18.04.2016.
[5] Annäherung oder Abschottung? Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Umfrage von TNS Infratest. Hamburg 2016.
[6] Russland und die EU: Zusammenarbeit in Zeiten der Krise. Körber-Stiftung Internationale Politik, März 2016.
[7] Annäherung oder Abschottung? Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Umfrage von TNS Infratest. Hamburg 2016.
[8] "Tiefgreifende und andauernde Differenzen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.04.2016.
[9] See Dispute over Sanctions on Russia (I).