SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil has rejected the impression that the government and the SPD are at odds over Russia policy. “It’s absolutely clear to us: We’re experiencing an escalation that’s coming from Russia,” said Klingbeil on Monday on ARD when asked if there weren’t differences in his party and the traffic light government. “We are very clear that all options are on the table should Russia attack Ukraine,” he added, referring to possible sanctions.
There has been a debate for weeks as to whether there should also be sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Klingbeil also reacted to controversial statements by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), who had accused Ukraine of saber-rattling. “Many can express themselves, but as the current SPD leadership, we make decisions together with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.”
The SPD co-leader has convened an internal party meeting for the afternoon to discuss Russia policy. According to the party, this is a long-term process to bring together the various poles in the largest governing party on Russia policy. Klingbeil referred to a dual approach of determination and dialogue. “We are also clear that it is now a question of organizing peace. I do not want us to get into a situation through threats or actions in which a war situation suddenly arises in Europe – perhaps unintentionally,” said he.
The SPD co-chief had previously rejected arms deliveries to Ukraine. It is right that Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) are now leading the way in order to develop diplomatic initiatives from the heart of Europe. (31.01.2022)
Estonia demands arms deliveries from Germany
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas calls on the federal government to take a more active role in defending Ukraine. “We encourage our German partners to listen to the Ukrainians. Ukraine has asked for help. The country needs help in defending itself against the aggressor,” said Kallas image-Zeitung with a view to the discussion about the transfer of artillery pieces from GDR stocks requested by Estonia. “We cannot allow Russia to restore its political and military influence over its neighbors.” Calling Moscow’s demands “a trap” and an “attempt at blackmail,” Kallas called on NATO not to make any concessions on Europe’s security. (31.01.2022)
Great Britain wants to expand military engagement in Eastern Europe
In view of the tense situation in Ukraine, Great Britain wants to expand its military engagement in Eastern Europe. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering doubling the number of British troops in the region and supplying Estonia with weapons for self-defense, the British government said on Saturday evening. According to official figures, more than 900 British soldiers are currently stationed in Estonia, more than 100 in Ukraine and 150 in Poland.
“This package of measures would send a clear message to the Kremlin: we will not condone their destabilizing activities and stand firm with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostilities,” Johnson said. “If President Putin chooses the path of bloodbath and destruction, it will be a tragedy for Europe. Ukraine must be free to choose its future.” Johnson said he has ordered the military to prepare to provide land, sea and air support to NATO allies in Europe.
The evening before, it had become known that Johnson would soon be on the phone with Putin and was planning a trip to the region. The exact destination has not yet been named. The British government wants to discuss military options on Monday, it was said. Chief of Staff Tony Radakin will brief the cabinet on the situation on Tuesday.
The details of the British offer are also to be discussed with NATO in Brussels. Johnson also wants to meet with the heads of state and government of the NATO members at the beginning of February, government circles said without details. Secretary of State Liz Truss and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace are due to travel to Moscow soon for talks.
Government circles in London also said that the British Foreign Office wanted to tighten its sanctions against Russia on Monday. This was intended to meet Russia’s “strategic and financial interests,” it said. According to a report by Times the US is concerned that London will not be able to decide on harsh economic measures against Moscow. Great Britain has tolerated suspicious investments from Russia for years. In London in particular, Russian oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin invest a lot of money. If these sums were withdrawn because of British sanctions, this could hit the financial metropolis hard. (29.01.2022)
Biden wants to send troops to Eastern Europe
According to President Joe Biden, the USA will soon be moving additional troops to the Eastern European NATO countries because of the Ukraine crisis. It’s about “not too many” soldiers, Biden said. He did not give any specifics as to how many soldiers there might be and where exactly they might be transferred and when. “I will soon be moving troops to Eastern Europe and the NATO countries,” said Biden.
On Biden’s orders, 8,500 soldiers in the United States had already been put on increased readiness on Monday. Biden had emphasized that it was a precautionary measure to address concerns of Eastern European NATO members. No US soldiers would be sent to Ukraine. Tens of thousands of US soldiers are regularly stationed in Europe, including around 35,000 in Germany, even outside of times of crisis. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that there had been no order to relocate the soldiers. They are ready in the USA, but have not yet been requested by NATO. (29.01.2022)
Putin calls for security guarantees in talks with Macron
In talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow’s demands for binding guarantees for security in Europe. This was announced by the Kremlin on Friday after a phone call between the two heads of state. Putin also said that Russia is now analyzing the written responses from the US and NATO to his proposals and then determining further steps.
According to the Kremlin, Putin also pointed out that the main concerns in Russia’s answers had not been taken into account. These include the demand for an end to NATO expansion, the renunciation of offensive weapons near the Russian borders and also the withdrawal of the bloc’s military potential and infrastructure to the positions of 1997. At that time, the Russia-NATO Founding Act was signed.
The US and its allies have also ignored the key issue of the “indivisibility” of security. This is enshrined in the principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other documents, it said.
By this Moscow means that a country must not strengthen its own security at the expense of the interests of another state. With this, Russia justifies its opposition to Ukraine’s admission to NATO, because it considers the advance of the military bloc to be a threat. Russia sees itself connected to parts of Ukraine through a centuries-long history and criticizes the fact that the USA and NATO have declared the country their sphere of influence – without considering Moscow’s interests.
According to the Kremlin statement, Putin has again insisted on fulfilling Kiev’s obligations in the Minsk peace agreement and on the planned special status for the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions in the Donbass. In Paris, there were for the first time direct talks between Moscow and Kiev – with Franco-German mediation – on the Minsk agreement, which has not yet been fulfilled. Above all, the commitment to the ceasefire in the conflict region was reaffirmed. Other topics of the call were the fight against the corona pandemic, the nuclear agreement with Iran and questions of Russian-French cooperation. (28.01.2022)
Gerhard Schröder accuses Ukraine of “saber rattling”.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has defended the German refusal to deliver arms to Ukraine and has clearly rejected Ukrainian criticism. “I very much hope that the saber-rattling in Ukraine will finally really stop,” said Schröder in the podcast “Die Agenda”https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/.” Because what I have to hear there, also Assigning blame to Germany because of the reasonable cancellation of arms deliveries, sometimes that knocks the bottom out of the barrel.”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) have clearly rejected the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Kiev has sharply criticized this. The government there demands, among other things, warships and air defense systems from Germany.
Schröder also saw the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine as a reaction to NATO maneuvers in the Baltic States and in Poland. “Of course, this has an impact on thinking and threat analysis in Russia itself,” he said. You have to take that into account if you are looking for a settlement with Russia. The former chancellor does not expect a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I don’t believe that. And I also don’t believe that the Russian leadership can and does have an interest in intervening militarily in Ukraine.” Schröder has been friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin since he was Chancellor. (28.01.2022)
BND chief Kahl: Putin has not yet decided on the attack
According to the Federal Intelligence Service, it is unclear whether Russia will attack Ukraine or not. “I believe that the decision to attack has not yet been made,” said the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, Bruno Kahl, to the Reuters news agency. Now we have to see whether the diplomatic talks that have been initiated will find something that goes into the list of demands made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In view of his far-reaching demands, that’s quite a feat. But we also believe that he would be quite prepared to carry out his threats,” emphasized Kahl in one of his rare interviews with a view to the Russian troop deployment in front of the Ukrainian border.
In the event of an escalation, it is completely uncertain how Russia will proceed. “The crisis can develop in thousands of ways,” said the BND president. “These can be hybrid measures to destabilize the government in Kiev. It can be support for separatists in the east to push the demarcation line forward there a little, or it can be provocation of regime change in Kiev.” Lines of demarcation are provisional demarcations between two sovereign territories. Kahl referred to the Ukrainian population: “The mood among the population has turned more clearly against Russia in recent years.”
Kahl did not want to comment on the question of whether and which sanctions should be taken against Russia in the event of an attack. He supports the federal government’s approach of putting all possible sanctions on the table, but leaving Putin largely in the dark about concrete steps. “As a principle, it is certainly better not to remain predictable,” said the BND boss. “It’s always an advantage, that’s what Putin does.” (28.01.2022)