Ukraine minister warns Berlin that Russia may want to revive the GDR
Ukraine’s defence minister warns Russia may want to split Germany in to east and west in revival of Soviet-era divide as he hits out at Berlin for refusing to supply Kiev with weapons
- Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov made the warning in parliament
- He said Moscow may want to revive the GDR that fell with reunification in 1990
- Russia’s president Vlaidmir Putin has spoken before on the collapse of the USSR, once describing it as ‘the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century’
- Germany is not providing Kiev with arms during its standoff with Russia
- Berlin has also refused to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported from Estonia to Ukraine, according to a report last week
Ukraine’s defence minister said on Friday Moscow may have ambitions to revive the East-West divide of the Soviet Era in Germany.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov also said Berlin’s reluctance to supply Kiev with weapons encourages Russian aggression, amid fears of a Russian invasion.
Unlike some of its NATO allies, Germany is not providing Kiev with arms during its standoff with Russia, which has massed troops near Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal also reported last week that Berlin had refused to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported from Estonia to Ukraine.
Reznikov suggested Russia may want to raise the question of restoring the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (pictured Friday) said today Moscow may have ambitions to revive the German Democratic Republic in eastern Germany
The GDR was founded in the eastern part of Germany in 1949, ruled by communists and dominated by Moscow until the Berlin Wall fell in a seismic event it 1989.
German reunification followed in 1990, as did the collapse of the Soviet Union.
‘The restoration of the GDR is a logical continuation of the Russian demands that have already been made,’ Reznikov said.
Russia’s president Vlaidmir Putin has spoken before on the collapse of the USSR, once describing it as ‘the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century’.
Reznikov told parliament that Kiev appreciated Germany’s help in treating wounded soldiers – Berlin has said it will send Ukraine a field hospital and 5,000 helmets.
‘But we do not accept the official position (of Germany) regarding the supply of weapons and other decisions that undermine the security of Europe and de facto encourage the aggressor,’ he said.
‘We warned our Western partners that the Kremlin’s goal is not so much Ukraine as to undermine NATO and the EU.’
Russia has been pressing demands for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.
Its security demands, presented in December, include an end to further NATO enlargement, barring Ukraine from ever joining and pulling back the alliance’s forces and weaponry from eastern European countries that joined after the Cold War.
Russia has said it does not plan to attack Ukraine and that it does not want war. It has made no reference to a desire to redraw Germany’s borders.
Russian armoured troop carriers are pictured taking part in military drills near Rostov-on-Don, located in southern Russia and just a few dozen miles from the Ukraine border
A Ukrainian service member fires a next generation light anti-tank weapon (NLAW) supplied by Britain during drills at Ukraine’s International Peacekeeping Security Centre near Yavoriv in the Lviv region, Ukraine, January 28, 2022
Meanwhile on Friday, Germany expressed regret that Russia has suspended mutual military inspections at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and NATO.
The inspections are intended as confidence-building measures among members of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
A spokesman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Russia recently announced it would suspend the inspections until the end of February, citing the spread of the omicron variant.
‘Because of this an inspection on Russian territory in the border region of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, which Russia had previously agreed to, won’t currently be possible,’ said the spokesman, Christofer Burger.
‘We expressly regret this step because particularly in the current situation anything which creates greater transparency would help reduce tensions,’ he said.
‘That’s why we are calling on Russia to voluntarily and extensively inform OSCE member states about its activities.’ Burger said Russia had also unilaterally cancelled inspections it was due to conduct in Germany.
Yesterday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during a parliamentary debate on Ukraine that her government is closely coordinating its policy with allies, considering a range of options that could include the new Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline to Germany.
Russia could attack Ukraine within weeks, intelligence sources have said, after Biden shared a phone call with President Zelensky last night during which he warned an attack is likely to come in February
The GDR was founded in the eastern part of Germany in 1949, ruled by communists and dominated by Moscow until the Berlin Wall fell in a seismic event it 1989 (pictured)
A Nord Steam 2 ‘info point’ with a painted map on the outside at the natural gas receiving station in the Lubmin industrial estate in Lubmin, Germany, November 16, 2021
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said this month that Germany had ‘not supported the export of lethal weapons in recent years’ and his defence minister has said Berlin does not send lethal weapons to crisis areas because it might ‘fuel the situation’.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has signalled that Germany would be ready to discuss suspending the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project – intended to bring gas under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany – if Moscow attacked Ukraine.
The pipeline has been built but has not yet secured regulatory approval. It has faced opposition from the United States and caused concern among some European politicians that it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy supplies.
Russia has said that both Europe and Russia will gain from Nord Stream 2 and that Germany should not ‘politicise’ the project.
Some have accused Germany of failing to stand up to Putin as tension on Russia’s border with Europe mounts.
British Conservative MP Bob Seely, who is a member of the government’s Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said last Saturday of the growing crisis: ‘The real bad guys here, so to speak, sorry to say this, are the Germans’.
Speaking to Times Radio, he put this down to Germany’s ‘energy policy, their complete dependence on Russian oil and gas, their willingness to have the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is not even needed, built, purely so that the Russians can cut off supplies to Ukraine, is incredibly self-centred and selfish.’
Speaking about President Vladimir Putin, Mr Seely said: ‘It is his long-term goal to undermine and shatter the confidence in the ability of Nato.
Nord Stream 2 pipeline: A key card in West’s hand against Russia
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany, has become a key bargaining chip for the West in its bid to stop Moscow from invading Ukraine.
The pipeline, which Germany has defiantly pursued despite criticism from the United States and Eastern Europe, was completed last year but still requires regulatory approval.
Germany has now given a clear warning that it will not allow Nord Stream 2 to begin operating if Russia invades Ukraine, despite a severe energy crisis that has sent gas prices soaring in Europe.
Here is a look at the history of the pipeline, which critics say will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and Ukraine has described as a ‘geopolitical weapon’.
What is it?
Running from Russia’s Baltic coast to northeastern Germany, the 1,200-kilometre (745-mile) underwater Nord Stream 2 follows the same route as Nord Stream 1, which was completed over a decade ago.
Like its twin, Nord Stream 2 will be able to pipe 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Europe, increasing the continent’s access to relatively cheap natural gas at a time of falling domestic production.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany, has become a key bargaining chip for the West in its bid to stop Moscow from invading Ukraine. Pictured: A map showing the pipeline’s route
Russian giant Gazprom has a majority stake in the 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) project. Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, France’s Engie, the Anglo-Dutch firm Shell and Austria’s OMV are also involved.
The pipeline was completed in September 2021 but German authorities in November suspended the approval process, saying it needed to first become compliant with German law.
The operating company behind the project, Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG, said this week it had founded a German subsidiary as it presses ahead despite the rising diplomatic tensions.
Why is it controversial?
Nord Stream 2 bypasses Ukraine’s pipeline infrastructure, depriving the country of around a billion euros annually in gas transit fees and, Kiev fears, removing a key check on potential Russian aggression.
Ukraine, in conflict with Russia since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, also believes Nord Stream 2 will be used by Russia to exert political pressure.
In past disputes with Russia, Ukraine has had its gas supply cut off several times.
The US shares those concerns. As do several European nations, particularly Poland and eastern European countries wary of becoming too reliant on Moscow for energy security.
Analysts meanwhile disagree about Nord Stream’s economic and environmental benefits.
A 2018 report by German think-tank DIW said the project was unnecessary and based on forecasts that ‘significantly overestimate natural gas demand in Germany and Europe’.
Why was Germany so keen?
Europe’s top economy imports around 40 percent of its gas from Russia and believes the pipeline has a role to play in the transition away from coal and nuclear energy.
Former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder serves as chairman of the Nord Stream’s shareholders committee.
The previous German government under Angela Merkel deflected calls to abandon the project even as tensions rose with Russia over spying allegations and the poisoning and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Now, with energy prices soaring across Europe – and Russia allegedly restricting existing gas supplies to put pressure on the West – stopping Nord Stream 2 looks like a bigger risk than ever.
What do other countries think?
US President Joe Biden objects to Nord Stream 2, calling it a bad deal for Europe and a security risk.
US sanctions on Russian vessels laying the pipeline had long succeeded in delaying Nord Stream 2, angering Germany.
But Biden, eager to rebuild transatlantic ties after Donald Trump, last year unexpectedly waived sanctions on the Russian-controlled company behind the project.
The pipeline, which Germany has defiantly pursued despite criticism from the United States and Eastern Europe, was completed last year but still requires regulatory approval
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, has long insisted that Nord Stream 2 poses a serious global security threat.
‘We view this project exclusively through the prism of security and consider it a dangerous geopolitical weapon of the Kremlin,’ he said last year.
What’s the latest?
With tensions with Moscow soaring over Russia’s deployment of troops on the Ukraine border, the new German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz, from the centre-left Social Democrats, has finally brought a change in Germany’s stance on Nord Stream 2.
Scholz warned on his first day in office that there would be ‘consequences’ for the pipeline if Russia makes a move on Ukraine.
This week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told parliament that her government was ‘working on a strong package of sanctions’ alongside allies that would include Nord Stream 2.
In Washington, a top official also voiced confidence that an invasion would stop Germany from activating the multibillion-dollar project.
‘If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,’ said Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.
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