Borysfen Intel

V. Putin's “Hybrid War” against Angela Merkel Has Long Started

March 25, 2016
<p>V. Putin's “Hybrid War” against Angela Merkel Has Long Started</p>

Yuriy Radkovets

 

In its previous publications, the Independent Analytical Center for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” has already raised the issue and analyzed in detail the theme of the role of Germany and personally of the Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel in deterring Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine. Since 2014, the essence of such Germany's actions has been consistent build-up of pressure on Russia within the framework of the West's political and economic sanctions against V. Putin's regime, as well as consolidation of the European Union's efforts in this direction. At the same time the German leadership has demonstrated its principled and uncompromising position regarding maintaining the sanctions against Russia until the full settlement of the situation around Ukraine on the terms of the resumption of territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state (including the return of the occupied by Russia territories of the Crimea and the Donbas).

In fact, it was a complete surprise to the Kremlin and turned Germany from the main Russia's partners in the EU into the main opponent of the Putin regime in Europe. In response, Moscow has resorted to a range of large-scale activities, and in fact launched a new “hybrid war” in an effort to improve its relations with Germany, as well as to destroy A. Merkel's subjective positions, as the key driving political force in Germany in relation to the Russian Federation. These activities were based on the old and already tested methods of action of the former Soviet Union and its secret services in the KGB style and the existing experience of “hybrid wars” against Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the EU, as well as taking into consideration the current situation in Germany and around it.

Within the framework of such approaches, the main forms and mechanisms of V. Putin's regime's activity in the pursuit of its goals have become as follows: a “game” on the economic interests of German business in Russia; creation and use of a pro-Russian lobby in the FRG; provoking social unrest in Germany and organization of all sorts of provocations against its leadership with broad involvement of the numerous community of Russian immigrants especially in East Germany; as well as launching a large-scale information campaign to promote and support the Russian “hybrid policy” both, in the CIS countries, in Europe, and all over the world.

Thus, in the economic sphere, the Russian leadership relied on Germany's leading business structures, who worked in the Russian market. Besides, it took into consideration Germany's dependence on Russian energy carriers, — oil, gas and coal counting for 20 % to 30% in the energy balance of Germany. In this regard, the most active work was carried out with the German companies E.ON and BASF — major partners of the Russian OAO “Gazprom” which had quite large assets in the Russian Federation.

In particular, in its time the E.ON had 15.5 % shares in the campaign the “Nord Stream” (the main operator on the implementation of the strategically important to Russia project for the construction of the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea), the control stock in the “Wholesale Generating Company-4” (produces 6 % of all the electricity in Russia), and has invested more than 6 billion Euros into the development of the Russian energy sector. In turn, the BASF has held several rounds of exchange of assets with the OAO “Gazprom”, as a result it has got an access to a number of Russian oil and gas fields. Greatly interested in maintaining cooperation with Russia are other German companies in engineering, pharmaceutical and commercial sectors.

All this forms Russia's powerful economic lobby in Germany, which is stimulated and supported by Moscow to counteract Germany's, and in general, the European Union's policy of sanctions. The consequence of such steps undertaken by V. Putin's regime, are as follows: systematic appeals of representatives of German big businesses to their own government and directly to A. Merkel with proposals (sometimes — even with demands!) to lift sanctions against Russia; German businessmen's visits to Moscow and their meetings with representatives of political and economic circles of the Russian Federation, as well as the non-stop, despite the restrictions, German businesses' cooperation with Russian partners.

Thus, the most eloquent example of such cooperation was the transfer by the German company BASF to the Russian OAO “Gazprom” of one of the largest in Western Europe, underground gas storage facilities in Lower Saxony, as well as the decision to implement the second stage of the “Nord Stream” of the Russian gas pipeline project. This practice reduces the effectiveness of the EU's sanctions against Russia and has a negative impact on A. Merkel's credibility as the main initiator of the policy of the European Union's sanctions and increases disagreement between European countries on the “Russian question”.

At the same time, V. Putin's regime is consistently strengthening its political lobby in Germany with the help of support for the already acting in Germany and those being created pro-Russian (anti-Ukrainian), nationalist and Euroskeptic organizations there. Besides, the purposeful work is being carried out with individual German politicians and business elites that share such ideas or agree with the implementation of various kinds of corruption schemes in their own and Russian interests.

In this regard, in early 2014 — immediately after the Germany's demonstration of its negative perception of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine — with the assistance of Moscow in Germany was created the so-called “Movement for Peace” which supports Putin's regime's policy. Members of the Movement systematically carry out actions, demanding to cancel the sanctions against Russia and to resume full cooperation with it. A. Merkel's position towards the Russian Federation has been criticized, and V. Putin has been presented as “... a really strong leader, a good example for the leaders of the Western countries”.

Even greater hopes Russia pins to the Right wing populist Euroskeptic party “Alternative for Germany”, which has become the main partner and ally of the Putin regime in Germany. The party's leadership has actually recognized Russia's annexation of the Crimea and the breakaway republics in the East of Ukraine, and in fact, it actively speaks for cancelling of the West's pressure on Moscow and for deepening cooperation with Russia within the framework of the joint fight against Islamic terrorism. Besides, V. Putin's regime relies on a number of other German political forces (including those represented in the European Parliament), in particular, on the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP).

According to the German publication Bild, apart from getting purely political dividends, Russia uses these political forces as intermediaries in the organization of the business activity of Russian and German companies, thus avoiding Western sanctions. The result is that a certain group of German business representatives leave the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, led by A. Merkel, who insists on the extension of sanctions against V. Putin's regime, as well as on paying more attention to the opposition, including the “Alternative for Germany” and the NDP advocating the resumption of cooperation with Russia.

In his turn, the main lobbyist of Russian interests in Germany among the leading German politicians is the former German Chancellor G. Schroeder. Since the very beginning of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, he keeps criticizing the policy of the EU and Germany's policy of sanctions against the Russian Federation, de facto justifying the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and denying its involvement in the conflict in the Donbas. He also calls to continue dialogue with V. Putin's regime, considering it a basis in resolving the existing problems.

The reason for this position of G. Schroeder is his personal friendly relations with V. Putin, as well as the “deliberate” policy of the Kremlin, which has provided the former German leader with a quite lucrative post of head of the board of the company “Nord Stream”. With this in mind, G. Schroeder's manifestation of blatant disregard of Germany and the EU's policy towards Russia, as well as demonstration of his pro-Russian position was the celebration of the 70th birthday of the former Chancellor of Germany with V. Putin April 30, 2014 in St. Petersburg in the midst of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine.

V. Putin's regime measures to form its political lobbies in Germany have also allowed to intensify the pro-Russian sentiment among German politicians, including those, belonging to the circle of partners of A. Merkel and members of the Government, the ruling coalition in the German Parliament. Thus, according to the Vice-Chancellor of Germany, Minister of Economy and Energy of the Federal Republic of Germany S. Gabriel, sanctions against Russia are “...provocative and destabilizing and provoke an even more dangerous situation in Europe.” Unlike A. Merkel, S. Gabriel does not believe that sanctions have some impact on Russia's policy towards Ukraine, and calls for a full-scale dialogue with Moscow, and against the attempts to “bring it to its knees”.

Similar views has the Prime Minister of Bavaria, the CDU's ally's leader in the ruling coalition — the Christian-Social Union (CSU) H. Seehofer. According to the Bavarian politician, “... the EU and Germany's sanctions against Russia do not just cause huge losses of the German economy, especially in its agricultural sector, but are absolutely not effective in terms of achieving their goals”. For this reason, H. Seehofer is a supporter of the resumption of cooperation with Russia.

This position makes the Prime Minister of Bavaria subject to Russia's special attention. February 4, 2016, at the Kremlin's invitation, H. Seehofer visited Moscow, where he was received personally by V. Putin. During the meeting, the Bavarian politician confirmed his attitude towards the Russian Federation, invited the President of the Russian Federation to take part in the Munich Security Conference in 2017. (Can anybody answer the question: Did he have the right to do so?)

These facts can be perceived as a direct threat to the unity of the ruling coalition in the FRG parliament (Bundestag), they also disrupt the coordination of the work of the German government, thus creating favorable conditions for Russia's implementation of its interests.

To strengthen pro-Russian sentiments in Germany, V. Putin's regime widely attracts the Russian diaspora in Germany. Today Germany is home to nearly 2.5 million of the so-called “Russian Germans” who have arrived there since late 1980s and do not break close ties with Russia. All in all, the number of the Russian-speaking population (according to some sources) is 6 to 8 million people, and is quite a respectable audience for the promotion of ideas favorable to the Kremlin. To this end, Russia has registered dozens of different mass media oriented toward the “Russian Germans”, inclusive, with prints, FM-radio stations, TV channels and Internet portals. Besides, the Russia-oriented organizations, whose members are immigrants from Russia, in particular, the International Convent of Soviet Germans, are given financial and “organizational and methodical” support.

Such actions of Moscow are accompanied by active information campaign in Russian and foreign (included in German) media to discredit Germany's and personally A. Merkel's policy towards the Russian Federation. The essence of this campaign is the deliberate imposition of public opinion about the “negative effects” of Western sanctions for Germany and the entire European Union, which allegedly lead to “unacceptable and unjustified losses of European and German economy”, “disjoin the EU”, “threaten with the collapse of the ruling coalition in the German Parliament”, and “undermine the international community's efforts in the fight against international terrorism and Islamic extremism”. The responsibility for these consequences is assigned directly to A. Merkel.

However, Russia's pressure could not shake A. Merkel's position. She has stood up against V. Putin's regime, and has not given up the policy of sanctions against Russia. Moscow, in its turn, has taken tougher measures against Germany's leadership, having provoked a social and political crisis in Germany. In particular, this has become one of the main reasons for Russia's direct intervention into the armed conflict in Syria, which led to intensification of fighting in the Syrian territory and exacerbated the situation in neighboring countries, including in Iraq, Turkey and Libya. In turn, this was followed by a massive influx of refugees from the Middle East to Europe, including to Germany.

As expected by Moscow, the influx of refugees into European countries has led to significant problems in the EU, including in the Federal Republic of Germany, connected with the consequences of the so-called “migration crisis” in Europe. The most sensitive of them are as follows: great financial costs for the resettlement of displaced persons; the increased confrontation between the representatives of the ordinary German and Russian-speaking population and migrants; greater number of cases of “exotic” diseases and the higher level of crime, as well as ethnic, international and domestic conflicts between refugees and the local population, which in some cases took the form of mass fights and riots.

“The migration crisis” in the EU revealed sharp disagreements in the European Union because of the quota for receiving the refugees, which resulted in the renewal and construction of new border barriers between the European countries, including within the framework of the Schengen area. All this caused deepening of differences between EU countries also in other matters, which caused additional challenges to the European community's unity. To prevent further deterioration of the situation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the initiative to remove from the agenda the critical for the EU question about limiting the entry of displaced persons and refused to introduce quotas for refugees from the Middle East in Germany.

The opposition forces of the FRG immediately took advantage of such A. Merkel's attitude to the issue in order to discredit her, as well as to enhance their own political ratings. Thus, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, CSU leader H. Seehofer, the leadership of the “Alternative for Germany” party and other German oppositional politicians accused A. Merkel of “ignoring the interests of the German people”, “not wanting to solve the problems caused by the influx of refugees into the country”, and even of “supporting Islamic extremism”.

Such accusations have intensified especially after the resonant events in Cologne, on the New Year's Eve 2016, when were taking place the “attributed to” people from the Middle East, massive attacks on women. Referring to these facts, H. Seehofer actually in the form of ultimatum demanded from A. Merkel to change the migration policy and to restrict the entry of refugees into Germany.

The German opposition's criticism against A. Merkel over migration issues in Germany was immediately supported by Russia, which resorted to active information measures in support of the Federal Chancellor's aforementioned accusations. To make this campaign more efficient and “meaningful”, Russia resorted to a special provocation known as “Liza's case”.

The point was the statement of a Russian-speaking 13-year-old girl from Berlin about her alleged “having been captured and raped by natives of the Middle East” in the night from 11 to 12 January 2016. Even before the completion of the formal investigation, “Liza's case” was widely used by Moscow to stir up among the Russian-speaking population of Germany protest moods against A. Merkel's “migration policy”.

Besides, “Liza's case” and the events in Cologne also served as the basis for consolidation of pro-Russian, Euroskeptic, nationalist and neo-Nazi German forces. Thus, January 23, 2016 representatives of these forces held a joint meeting near the residence of the Federal Chancellor of Germany under the slogan of “the fight against violence against women.” And again all the responsibility for such violence was placed on A. Merkel.

Fomenting of the scandal around “Liza's case” and turning it into an act of a purely political propaganda against A. Merkel's government was joined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. With his usual contempt and impudence, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an official statement in which he expressed doubts about “... the thoroughness of the investigation of the case by the relevant German law enforcement authorities”.

The German leadership could not help reacting to Russia's large-scale interference into Germany's domestic affairs. On behalf of the German government, the German Intelligence Service BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution began investigation of such Moscow's activity, which immediately gave rather “interesting” results.

For example, was established the fact of audio intercept of A. Merkel's mobile phone by Russian special services from the building of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Moreover, the investigation revealed more than 50 attempts of the Russian side to recruit German politicians, the military and businessmen. It also identified more than 100 Russian spies from different departments (SVR, GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and FSB of the Russian Federation) who were working in Germany under the guise of diplomats.

Shocking were also the results of the investigation of the so-called “Liza's case,” which appeared an openly provocative falsification. According to German police, the girl was not at all “kidnapped and raped by immigrants from the Middle East”, but instead spent the night at her 19-year-old friend's as a result of a quarrel with her parents because of problems at school. Liza's location was well established after the Police had decoded the information from her mobile phone. The girl's friend was questioned by the Police, and he confirmed her stay at his home at the time when she allegedly was captured by criminals.

Against this background stand out the visit to Moscow immediately prior to the above-mentioned action of one of the organizers of the meeting of January 23, 2016 against “violence against women”, the leader of the International Convent of Soviet Germans H. Grote. According the German secret services, the aim of his visit was to coordinate with the Kremlin the activities of pro-Russian organizations in Germany, which fact confirms Moscow's involvement in provoking the scandal surrounding the so-called “Liza's case”.

Moreover, German law enforcement agencies have exposed the activities of members of the Russian diaspora in Germany to recruit mercenaries for Islamic terrorist organizations of Syria and other Middle Eastern countries and North Africa. In particular, on charges of supporting a terrorist group “Islamic State” in Berlin, was arrested the imam of a mosque — 30-year-old Russian citizen, a native of Dagestan Murad Atayev. He and his accomplices had not just been recruiting mercenaries in Germany via the Internet, but also had been buying various military equipment for Islamist groups of Syria, optical sights and night vision devices included.

Proceeding from the above-mentioned, and other facts, the FRG special services have confirmed previous conclusions about Moscow's consistent and deliberate policy to discredit and undermine the position of Merkel personally, as well as to destabilize the situation in Germany in order to change its attitude to Russia, first of all, in terms of lifting the sanctions. Leading German politicians-supporters to A. Merkel's policy and her practical actions against Putin's regime agreed with this conclusion.

According to estimates by both the leading European experts and experts of the analytical center “Borysfen Intel”, firm belief of the political establishment of Germany in Moscow's anti-German activities will be the determining factor in the implementation of Germany's future strategy against the Russian Federation's “hybrid policy” (“hybrid war”), and against V. Putin.

Page URL: http://bintel.com.ua/en/article/print/gibridnaja-vojna-putina-protiv-merkel%27/