EUROPE: German – Russian Relations

A sordid history

NATO encirclement of Russia does not further world peace but endangers it. A unified European foreign policy including Russia for a collective security system aimed at easing tensions should replace U.S.-dominated NATO policies. Who does not favor the collapse of the European Union should support a new social and democratic system. (Sahra Wagenknecht, Die Linke Party of Germany)

The US has tactical weapons in Europe, let us not forget this. Does it mean that the US has occupied Germany or that the US never stopped its occupation after World War II and only transformed the occupation forces into the NATO forces? –V. Putin

It’s no easy task to get a handle on just what is happening in Europe. Is it really united? And if so, who is in command? And above all, does what used to be called the continent of Europe (it’s not a continent at all) even count in world affairs? There is little doubt about who commands within the European Union. Germany commands. Though the “special Paris-Berlin relationship” makes the headlines, for Germany that relationship is nothing special. Not so for traditional France always in search of old glories, while pragmatic Berlin chooses Germany’s partners and defines the nature of the relationship.

Germany has long been dominant in Europe. Brexit or not, Southern European unity or not, Germany dominates in most any Europe. Any Europe, that is, that does not include Russia and the heavy hand of the USA whose armies still occupy Germany and Italy today seventy-five years since World War II. Decisions made in Berlin might cause griping and bitter criticisms by other European nations and generate remembrances of the “good old times” of strict borders and interlocking pacts and treaties. And also since the UK departure, you read of weak threats from other member nations to abandon the ranks of the European Union. But be that as it may, matters that count within the EU are decided in Berlin. For EU policies and actions serve above all German interests, to such an extent that many Germans and Germany itself might envy the British exit from a heavy, bureaucratic, costly, decadent EU. If Germany dominates Europe anyway, Germans can think, why then the cumbersome EU?

A Europe that includes Russia, however, is another matter. Another world. Therefore the German-Russian relationship IS special, the key to the Europe conundrum. Then the related question arises: Is U.S./NATO domination of this weak-voiced, insignificant peninsula attached to the western tip of the great Eurasian continent destined to continue forever? Is American domination of this nonetheless great, densely populated area reduced to an American military base and colony to be eternal? The answer lies both in Germany’s relationship with the USA/ NATO of today and with Russia in the near future.

According to historian John Wheeler-Bennett—like most Western historians a victim of US anti-Russian propaganda—relations between Russia and Germany since the 1740s have been a series of alienations distinguished for their bitterness and of rapprochements remarkable for their warmth. Despite Nazi Germany’s war on Russia in WW II, Russians and Germans have traditionally admired each other: Russians love German music and culture; Germans love Russian dance and graphic arts.

On the Future of Russia and Germany, Professor of Slavic Studies Vladimir Golstein at Brown University writes: The Russian-German relationship is as complex as it is fascinating. Both countries share proud histories, unique cultures, and the uncanny combination of rivalry and interdependence, a combination that has resulted in two brutal wars. I see Germany as the China of Europe. Hard-working, highly organized, much less driven by the debilitating individualism that has crippled both France and Great Britain, leaving Germany as the most powerful player on the European scene… besides Russia. The paradox is that neither Russia nor Germany is going anywhere alone.

Professor Golstein recalls that the United States introduced itself into the European scene … and through the combination of economic pressures and NATO expansion has managed to turn itself into a major European player even though without much history, expertise, patience and, most importantly, geography to back it up. Consequently, as the only relatively independent European power, Russia never knows with whom exactly it is dealing: Germany or the US, England or the US, Italy or the US. That creates problems for Russia, as it does for its German economic partners.

Russia, the possessor of great natural resources, highly talented people, and potentially the biggest market in Europe, is a natural partner of Germany in the process and can transform the two countries into one major power player of both the European and the international scene. Neither the United States, nor its staunch allies, such as Great Britain and France like this scenario. They are doing their best to prevent it, consequently pushing Russia away from the China of the West—Germany—into cooperation with the China of the East. I still see Russia as benefitting from any of the scenarios, be it becoming the major player of either Europe or of Asia. Germany, however, stands to lose a lot if it continues to allow the United States to prevent it from its natural and mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia.

An understanding of the true nature of German-Russian relations is elusive because of US/NATO anti-Russian propaganda on the one hand, and on the other because of Russia’s stubborn insistence on considering Germany and the EU and the USA as friends and partners. In reality, Germany’s interests differ radically from US/NATO interests. Germany likewise is suffused by so much anti-Russian propaganda originating from the USA that Germans go against themselves. According to a 2014 BBC World Service poll, only 21% of Germans view Russia’s influence positively, with 67% expressing a negative view. Russians, however, have a much more positive view of Germany than Germans do of Russia, with 57% viewing Germany’s influence positively and 12% negatively. The result shows also where propaganda is stronger!

By the end of 2020, Russia’s Gazprom is scheduled to begin pumping Russian gas to Europe through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, 1200 kilometers from Ust-Luga in the St. Petersburg province to Greifenwald in Germany passing under the Baltic Sea. The USA has obstructed the project from the start ten years ago imposing sanctions on participatory countries since which time Russia has proceeded alone. Such major German-Russian agreements-partnerships affecting the rest of Europe perforce change the entire web of international relations.

Moreover, in recent years Berlin stationed German troops in Lithuania and points eastwards while NATO military forces moved into Poland, Romania and Bulgaria and elsewhere along Russia’s borders. It is a brutal irony of history that German troops (under a US/NATO umbrella) are now ‘permanently’ in Lithuania, a former republic of the USSR, the winner of WWII. Lithuania is now ‘occupied’ by the loser of the war at the end of which defeated Germany was demolished.

At the start of the war in 1939 Germany’s population had reached 80 million. At war’s end, over five million Germans lay dead, many of whom soldiers in Russia, while many civilians were buried under the ruins of Germany’s great cities like Dresden or Cologne. At the same time, just as American and Nazi German WW II leaders had desired, the West turned against its former Russian ally, charging Russia with aggression in Ukraine, Crimea and other ethnic Russian regions like Moldova, while in violation of post-WWII accords and promises NATO has continuously extended its borders eastwards.

In today’s world the moral issue of right or wrong shifts slowly, from one generation to another, while in a fast-moving and ever-smaller globe, every consideration raises a fundamental question like: Who is the good guy, who the bad? Who holds the true truth? Once you could accuse and hate a Hitler or a Stalin. Today we seem stumped at the quandary: Who is responsible for the mess? Many Europeans believe the USA responsible. Yet they cannot break the American yoke. Naive Europeans once felt safe in the arms of America’s NATO. That situation has changed. The US yoke weighs heavy today: US economic demands, sanctions against America’s enemies who are Europe’s natural friends, and American military occupation not only of Germany and Italy but of most East European countries—Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland—which today are again Europe’s friends, but they are America’s subjects. The difference is great.

Quietly, without fanfare, in 2017 the foreign ministers of 25 EU countries announced the birth of the PESCO (Permanent Structural Cooperation) agreement. PESCO is the cornerstone of a future EU army in which the German voice would be the strongest. Yet, paradoxically, it would also be a parallel army to NATO forces with overlapping capabilities of the U.S.-run NATO army. Who would pay? Europeans would pay, of course. An EU army is good news for the exploding German arms industries, which has made of that country—though hundreds of light-years of dollars behind the U.S. arms producer giant—the world’s third military weapon exporter after the USA and Russia. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to push for an obligatory annual contribution to NATO of 2% of the GDP of member countries. If the U.S. budgets $700 billion for “Defense”, it expects (but will never get) immensely increased military contributions from European taxpayers bled dry by taxes to support the non-elected EU bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, more secret and more important than Paris-Berlin pompous exchange visits, press rumor has it that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin speak almost daily. Certainly they speak of plans for a peaceful solution to end EU/NATO-Russian tensions over Ukraine. NATO calls for Russia’s withdrawal of support for ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and for economic assistance to disintegrating Ukraine. In exchange, Germany/EU/NATO/U.S./ UN would recognize Crimea’s independence and what the West still calls its annexation by Russia. Clearly, only Germany could hammer home such an agreement.

The Merkel-Putin relation is complex. Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, shares common geography with Putin, who as a KGB major was stationed in Dresden in former East Germany. It is said that they switch between German and Russian languages during those phone talks and meetings. A former scientist, Merkel prides herself on her ability to methodically analyze situations. Considering her background and political expertise, it is hard to imagine her believing her own propaganda of what is termed in the West “Russian aggression”. She must be aware of the internal pressures on Putin to absorb Russian ethnic territories such as East Ukraine, Odessa, and Moldova-Transdnistria. A natural desire which is not Russian “aggression”. At the same time, Merkel does not put a high priority on salvation of the fictitious country called Ukraine. When Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, it was an internal administrative matter, now the object of international crisis. And Crimea has long been part of Russia. To speak of “annexation” regarding its reintegration into Russia is a political absurdity that cannot be compared to Hitler’s annexation of Austria and Sudetenland. Moreover, though not a country for Russia either, Ukraine is most certainly a major issue for Moscow.

Berlin-Moscow; Moscow-Berlin

Nikolai Pavlov, Professor of History and Politics at Moscow MGIMO University and the author of ‘German-Russian Relations: A Failed Alliance’, wrote that the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop military pact between Russia and Germany destroyed the traditional relationship between the two countries. What remained after that fake event was a shattered love-hate affair that continues until today. In an interview with Russian Sputnik, the professor said the Molotov-Ribbenbtrop Pact “was not even a true alliance. It was merely a neutrality agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.” Besides, between 1934 and 1939, Nazi Germany made non-aggression and friendship pacts with: Poland, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Romania, Lithuania, Italy, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia, in that sequence. (Western historians-propagandists today claim that Stalin made an alliance with Hitler—as if that were an alliance, and the only pact—and thus Nazism and Communism are the same thing.) Professor Pavlov is doubtful of the realization of a strategic partnership between the two countries today because of the “big differences in the economy, structure of the state, and domestic politics”. Recalling the alliance between the German Democratic Republic and the USSR after the Second World War when both counties belonged to the Warsaw Treaty organization, Pavlov said that nothing of that sort is now possible. Germany is part of NATO and Russia has trouble dealing with that alliance at the present moment. “While Germany tries to speak with Russia as a representative member of NATO and the EU, Russia prefers to maintain bilateral relations with Germany.”

In 2017, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Moscow—the first German President to visit Russia since 2010—allegedly on a mission to restore bilateral relations … precisely as Moscow prefers. Since then and despite NATO and the EU, German political parties have claimed they are committed to having good relations with Russia. In his somewhat ambivalent analysis of Angela Merkel, Professor Pavlov compared Germany’s Chancellor to the first Chancellor of the country from 1860, Otto von Bismarck. “She is a sober and cool politician in Bismarck’s sense,” Pavlov said, again reflecting President Putin’s views, “though she does not build alliances like him. She instead incorporates all the little things into big real-policies of the international arena.”

So if Merkel does not intend some sort of alliance with Russia, the question remains open as to what “little things” she has in mind. If for the USA also Ukraine has become a little thing, not so for Russia, and therefore not for Germany either. Crimea’s return to Mother Russia is a very ‘big thing’ for Moscow’s Black Sea strategy, while apparently less and less a big thing for the U.S. geopolitical plans for that great sea, and perhaps just a little less big for Germany in comparison to the entire Berlin-Moscow question which would be the point of Russian-German bilateral relations.

German and Russian Arms Industry

Though we read frequent reports about the sophistication of Russian arms, its newest missiles and aircraft or its arms sales to Turkey or Saudi Arabia, little is written about the German arms industry. Certainly, her arms are not quiet and rusting away. The contrary is true: the German arms industry is booming, according to Fortune, citing an unnamed German newspaper as the source. Although the USA dwarfs other arms producer-exporters of the world, without which the U.S. would have no industry to speak of, Germany is the world’s third arms producer. German aerospace and munitions industries account for over 50 percent of that country’s worldwide arms sales. After the U.S. companies that dominate the first ten of the world’s top 100 arms sellers in 2010, appears Germany’s Rheinmetal-$2.6 billion of sales-followed by Krauss-Mafei Wegmann-1.5 billion, ThyssenKrupp-1.3, Diel-1.2, MTU Aero Engines-640 million. Other firms are Deutsche Aerospace (DASA), founded in 1989 to incorporate the aerospace and other defense activities of the Daimler-Benz group. It also controls Dornier, (WWII, Dornier bombers) which produces aircraft and equipment. The Motoren und Turbinen Union (MTU), another unit of DASA, is a large producer of parts for aircraft, ships, and tanks. Already in 1990, there were seven German firms among the world’s top 100 arms-producing firms. Not included in the top 100 list in 1990 was Krupp MaK Maschinenbau GmbH, a firm engaged heavily in tank production. All in all, of the top 100 arms-producing companies in 1990, 47 were U.S. companies and 7 were German companies.

Russia’s military production floundered during the 1990s on the heels of the dissolution of the USSR. And Russia all but stopped producing arms for its own military. Most of its arms production was earmarked for foreign buyers. Sukhoi and MIG fighters were about a fourth of the price of comparable American-made planes. Today Russia aggressively promotes its combat aircraft on the East Asian arms market. Other top sellers include missiles, tanks and hand arms, Russia has returned to become the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of arms; it exports about half of U.S. arms exports. According to Moscow Times: Russia sold $13.2 billion worth of weapons in 2014, about $22 million more than the year before, despite Western sanctions against Moscow for its “meddling in eastern Ukraine”. Major deals included the sale of S-400 surface-to-air missiles to China, Other important customers for Russian weapons include India, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Algeria, Syria and Vietnam. (Moscow Times, April 13, 2105)

U.S. Encirclement of Russia

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that NATO/USA is using every opportunity available to deploy as many of its soldiers along the Russian border as possible. In fact, just today US/ NATO military maneuvers have tens of thousands of soldiers practicing war along Russia’s eastern borders. British politician Martin Koller said that “Lavrov is right because NATO is 70 percent doing America’s bidding and has long ceased to fulfill its duty to defend Europe. Its main objective was defending Europe against the Warsaw Pact, which is no longer in existence. Secondly, in its standoff with Russia, the US will naturally opt for solutions of which Europe will suffer the most and America will emerge in a stronger position vis-à-vis European countries.”

In an article of a few years ago about Ukraine, I included the words below of the right-wing, radical, nationalist writer in Russia, Egor Prosvirnin, who is a leader of the large and controversial, Sputnik and Pogrom movement, whose slogan is Russia For Russians and is antagonistic to Putin, Communists and Liberals. The movement’s name is significant: the Russian Sputnik was Earth’s first satellite, the word meaning fellow-traveler; the Russian word pogrom means devastation. I have purposely left the article almost intact so as to reflect the frustration of many Russians vis-à-vis the West in general and also to show clearly this very Russian way of thinking.

My name is Egor Prosvirnin, I am the chief editor of the Russian site www.sputnikipogrom.com which advocates European values.

… one of the aspects of life that Europeans and Germans especially cherish is history. If we were to recall recent history, we would remember that a vast army of 300,000 Soviet troops along with 5,000 tanks, 1,500 aircraft and 10,000 artillery pieces (including tactical nuclear weapons) simply left the then just-united Germany without firing a shot. It was an operation unprecedented in scope and brevity, when the entire Soviet army withdrew literally to open fields. Tens of thousands of Soviet officers, obeying the orders of the supreme command, went from their warm barracks to live in moldy tents set up in the middle of sodden snow-covered fields.

For what?

For hope. Hope that the dark pages of history between our two countries were finally and forever past. Hope that we no longer have to keep armies of tanks in the center of Europe, and that Europe would respect and consider our interests. Hope that in a united Germany we would have a good friend and ally, with whom Russia would fulfill the dream of Charles de Gaulle of a united Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. When our armies were leaving Germany, our soldiers were told that Germany had recognized and redeemed its mistakes of the past, there were no undecided issues with Germany, and that we would no longer hear German voices calling for retribution against Russia, therefore we did not need our army of tanks positioned in the middle of Europe. From that moment, Russians and Germans were friends, and friends have no need for vast armadas of armor and tanks. Russians should cease being afraid of a united Germany and disarm.

And we disarmed. And for 20 years we felt that we did the right thing, that the past was forgotten forever, and that the Germans appreciated how readily we closed all the bases and brought all the troops home (although there are huge American bases in Germany to date).

In good times our friends know us; in troubled times we come to know our friends; and troubled times did come via the Ukrainian crisis. It became clear that the Germans do not remember the good. It turned out that the Germans did not learn the lessons of history; it seems that the Germans viewed the voluntary dismantling and withdrawal of our war machine not as humanism and goodwill, but weakness.

It turns out that when the Americans spoke loudly and sharply with the German chancellor, whom they for all these years have kept under surveillance like some sticky-fingered housemaid, the entire German society leaped up like a submissive dog running obediently to its American master…. even when the conflict with Russia goes against German economic and political interests. It seems therefore that if one blunts their sword, removes their armor, stops Soviet-era preparations for World War III, and reaches out to the Germans, the Germans will spit in your extended hand at the first opportunity.

It turns out that Russians are yet again “Untermensch”, who can be savaged with impunity on the pages of the German press and punitive sanctions demanded from the rostrum of the Bundestag… It turns out, however, that the Ukrainian government can without any liability prohibit the Russian language, jail Russian activists, target residential neighborhoods with volleys of artillery, kill thousands of civilians who happen to be mostly Russian – and that’s OK. It is OK because it’s a “democracy”, and it suits Germany because Russians are “Untermensch”, because Russians are Jews whose blood for Germans is worth nothing. And what’s more, for trying to defend themselves, for attempting to return fire against the Ukrainian armed forces, Russians should be punished, publicly harassed, their will to resist broken, and then forced into an international Russian ghetto.

We are again the subhumans, we are again nothing but animals that Ukrainian Nazis may kill with impunity, creating a “Russian-frei Ukraina”….Where are your protests, Germany? Where are your sanctions against Ukraine? Where is your vaunted humanism that you profess to have learned since 1945 by recognizing the errors from your past?

You have not learned humanism, you Germans. You have not learned responsibility. You have not learned to resist Evil and tell that Evil clearly to its face, “No, you are the killer, I will not help you, you must stop the killing immediately.” You have not learned to be a responsible, independent, free people, who are capable of giving good in return for good.

You are slaves who think good is a weakness.

In 1934, Hitler drove you like sheep, and in 2014 Obama was your shepherd. If tomorrow in Germany, the Americans were to open a concentration camp for Russians, half of you would immediately submit their curriculum vitae for jobs as operators of the gas chambers, and your press would start to explain how this camp is patriotic and good for the German economy. It would then follow that killing these Russian “Untermensch”, crafting lampshades out of their skin for daring to resist, and sending this nicely packaged to Washington to please your American ally is right.

Germans have failed the test. Evil has returned again to Europe, but you do not even attempt to resist it, and immediately fall prostrate at its feet like a slave after the eagerly-awaited, long-delayed return of your master. Serve Evil, impose sanctions, support the murder of Russians, supply weapons to the killers of Russians, justify this genocide – the end of your story will be familiar because Evil cannot win.

I will conclude this text with a popular quote from the famous American stateswoman Ms. Victoria Nuland, who obviously makes the decisions in Ukraine instead of your Chancellor:

“Fuck the EU”.

Although Prosvirnin’s words do ring harshly, he also voices patent political-historical truths and an unconcealed warning to Europe to stop blaming Russia for its own deficiencies and crises. In other words, he says: “Germany, Europe, get your act together! Or accept your fate.” That is, I would add, your fate still locked in the arms of your delusional American overseer riding on the falling star of a conceptual economic boom.

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