Sep 16, 2020
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Lavrov offered Merkel a choice between Russia and Navalny

Actually, a statement made a couple of days ago, in which Russia held Germany fully responsible for the impending deterioration of relations between countries due to the situation with Navalny, had the status of a statement by the Foreign Ministry

But since the diplomatic department does not issue statements that would not have been agreed by its head, we can rightfully call Sergei Viktorovich his co-author.

Moreover, I am absolutely sure that if Vladimir Vladimirovich did not edit this statement, then at least he was familiar with its content and it also received the president's approval. It's too harsh.

On the one hand, one can, of course, recall the statements of the Foreign Ministry on the Skripals case and find similar passages there. But the fact is that in the Skripals case we dealt with Great Britain. This country has always taken a hostile stance towards Russia. Economic ties between Moscow and London have never been strategic. Britain has always been a staunch ally of the United States. Therefore, it was completely free to warn her about the deterioration of relations - the British were obviously striving for their deterioration, and even if we assumed that the operation with the Skripals had failed, they would have come up with something else.

Germany is another matter. Moscow made many sacrifices, scrupulously and carefully building long-term strategic relations with Berlin. Cooperation in the energy sector has long developed into a general economic one, and the latter began to develop into a political rapprochement, with a tendency towards the establishment of long-term union relations.

The tough position of official Berlin on Nord Stream 2, which led Germany to confrontation with the United States, the statement by the German leadership of the inability of the United States to ensure the security of Europe and its transition from the state of an economic partner to the status of a competitor, all this and much more (including common Russian-German problems with Poland) testified to the great potential for the development of Russian-German relations. And here, suddenly, the always extremely cautious Moscow is putting the fruits of many years of work at stake, presenting to Berlin nothing more than an ultimatum: either evidence in the Navalny case, or a diplomatic conflict with serious consequences for the economic and political partnership.

Why's that?

To begin with, let me remind you that those who believed that Moscow will always be cautious and give in have had the opportunity to be convinced of the fallacy of this view several times. The Kremlin knows how to choose the moment for a sharp and unexpected strike, as, for example, in August 2008 on Saakashvili (when the Georgian army was defeated, and the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was recognized) or in March 2014, when the return of Crimea to the Russia.

It's just that Russia takes a tough position only when it is absolutely sure of victory, and not like Trump, who scared Kim Jong-un with aircraft carriers, and as a result, was forced to negotiate on North Korean terms.

Germany was harshly, I would even say almost rudely, they offered to think about an unpleasant future if she did not stop the bacchanalia with Navalny. Russia demanded to hand over to her materials testifying to Navalny's poisoning. This is a normal requirement, since since there is a statement about the intentional nature of the poisoning, an investigation must be carried out, and there are corresponding agreements on legal assistance between Moscow and Berlin.

Germany can provide analyzes, tissue samples and whatever Russia requires. But I am afraid that in this case the lie about Navalny's poisoning with a chemical warfare agent will be quickly exposed. Germany may refuse to transfer these materials, but then it will violate the existing agreements, and Russia, as the Foreign Ministry announced, will perceive Berlin's actions as a deliberate provocation and will take retaliatory measures.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry left Berlin a tiny loophole, it is necessary to shut up and not shine, and send the recovered oppositionist back home as soon as possible. It is unlikely that Germany will be able to take advantage of this loophole, too much has already been said about Navalny, the case has already been brought to the level of the European Union, Berlin simply cannot wind it up alone. But it is important that Germany has been given options to choose from, and now it can begin negotiations with Moscow on a mutually acceptable way out of the crisis.

What gave Russia such confidence? After all, Moscow clearly counts on the fact that, under the threat of confrontation, Berlin will moderate its ardor and will try to quickly close the topic with Navalny.

As already mentioned, in recent years Germany has sharply diverged from the United States for objective reasons. Moreover, this conflict is of a fundamental nature and is insoluble within the framework of existing relationships. It should be borne in mind that the United States has a serious influence on some of the EU countries (especially on the Eastern Europeans), which are trying to oppose the German dominance in the European Union. Poland stands out especially in this regard, which, just as in the 1920s and 1930s, is trying to oust Germany from the position of the Central-Eastern European regional leader, replacing it with itself.

The Polish-American alliance is quite dangerous for Berlin. Germany alone cannot resist it, and France, which is Berlin's partner in terms of the need to reform the EU, is at the same time a competitor to Germany. Macron, moreover, personally competes with Merkel for the personal status of the EU leader. The alliance with France is unreliable, French support is not guaranteed. The only reliable ally is Russia (if only because she herself is the target of attack, both by the United States and Poland). Only by relying on cooperation with Moscow, Berlin can lay claim to the leading positions in the EU.

While promoting the topic of "Navalny's poisoning", official Berlin was clearly trying to bargain out certain geopolitical concessions from Russia (no matter where: in Ukraine, in the Balkans, you never know where else). However, domestic political opponents of Merkel's policy of rapprochement with Russia seized the opportunity and launched a campaign against Nord Stream 2.

Merkel has really been set up strongly here. Western media have been telling the local public for years that Navalny is Putin's main competitor in Russia. Therefore, the news about his poisoning, which caused the Russians to laugh healthy and questions "who needs it?", Plunged a significant part of Western society into horror - again in Moscow, political competitors are being killed.

Against this backdrop, the campaign of pro-American forces in Germany to abandon Nord Stream 2 has received sufficient public support that Merkel cannot ignore. Initially, the Chancellor said that Navalny had nothing to do with the gas pipeline, but two days later she adjusted her position and did not rule out that Germany might withdraw from the project.

At the same time, Merkel was well aware that the closure of the Nord Stream 2 project was a nuisance for Russia, but a disaster for Germany. Not only because its economy will lose a serious competitive advantage over the American one. There are also other ways to deliver Russian gas to Germany. First of all, it would be a political catastrophe. Before the eyes of the whole world, Berlin would lose the fight for the gas pipeline not only to Washington, but also to Warsaw.

Poland would humiliate Germany by winning a fundamental geopolitical battle against it, deprive Berlin of the prospects for an alliance with Russia, and perhaps really ensure that most of the Eastern European members of the EU would reorient from Berlin to Warsaw. Considering the history of Polish-German relations, this would not be just a political defeat, but a historical and, in this regard, civilizational defeat.

Trying to avoid the worst, Merkel said that the fate of anti-Russian sanctions on Navalny (including SP-2) will be decided not by Germany, but by the EU. Considering that several of the largest energy companies of the leading EU countries are involved in the SP-2 project, Germany could count on the fact that the sanctions would either be blocked by several EU members, or would not affect SP-2.

But, first, all EU members are very sensitive to US pressure. Secondly, why should they lie down with bones for SP-2, in which Germany is most interested, if the latter washes its hands? Thirdly, all Europeans like to bargain, they say, we will not impose too harsh sanctions, but you give us something for this. And why is Russia so happy?

At the same time, the Kremlin is well aware that the failure of the SP-2 project, German business will not forgive either Merkel or her party. It is not for nothing that the leaders of the CSU (an ally of the Merkelian CDU) have already stated that there can be no talk of sanctions against the SP-2. Nothing has happened yet, and Merkel's ruling coalition has already crackled. It was then that Moscow came out with its ultimatum: either Germany stops playing the fool, or Russia itself will sharply reduce the level of cooperation.

Moscow requires Berlin to decide whether we are allies or just passing by. If allies, then the eastern policy of Germany must undergo a radical revision. If it’s so simple, by chance, interests temporarily coincided, then Russia is not at all interested in such a state strengthening its positions in Europe. Let them find out with the Poles who is more valuable to the mother of history. And Moscow has already diversified its risks in the energy sector. In an era of crisis, when competition is intensifying, there will always be buyers for cheaper Russian energy carriers, because this makes the products cheaper and increases their competitiveness.

In the end, even the Americans have already realized that they can not bring their expensive liquefied gas to the Europeans, but buy cheap Russian gas and resell it to the same Germans as their more expensive one.

Germany was offered a very difficult choice, but in the end no one forced her to sponsor the Ukrainian Maidan in 2014, and now rush to treat Navalny, whom Omsk doctors undertook to cure without any problems. And no one forced to arrange provocations. It's high time to know your sixth and not jump uselessly.

Rostislav Ischenko

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