Originally appeared at DWN, translated by John T. Sumner exclusively for SouthFront
The Cold War is about to become a permanent condition in Europe: The G7 summit will approve the renewal of sanctions against Russia. NATO continues to expand eastward. An independent foreign policy of Germany only lives on in the remembrance of better times.
In their conflict with the Russian government regarding Ukraine, the G7 countries want to cling to their sanctions against Russia, the AFP is reporting. Angela Merkel dressed up her submission to the US course in flowery words, typical for her. On Thursday, Merkel said on the periphery of the G7 summit being held in the Japanese Ise-Shima: “For me it is way too early to give the all-clear in any way. Concerning this matter, a change in position, relative to the previous months, is not to be expected.”
In her final statement, to be published by the end of the summit on Friday, her position, taken in the G7 meeting in Bavarian Elmau, will be reaffirmed, Merkel said. The G7 threatened Russia with tougher sanctions even then, “should its actions require so”.
The G7 countries had imposed sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Furthermore, the seven major industrial nations expelled Russia from their circle, returning to the format of the G7. The summit in Japan is the third one since the exclusion of Russia.
Justifications for the Cold War vary. Once they were based on alleged Russian soldiers in the Donbass, then on the “annexation” of Crimea – a quite controversial issue by international law -, then again the downing of MH17, and occasionally they are based on the issue of compliance with the Minsk Agreement. In recent times you hear less from the latter, however, because the Ukrainian government is ignoring Minsk ostentatiously. On the other hand, Crimea is a much more grateful subject because emotions can be stirred up more easily. So Ukrainian President Poroshenko said at the return of the pilot Savchenko, that he would fetch home the Crimea from Russia as well. The Euro Vision Song Contest mutated to a political circus by the Crimea-song, as demonstrated by the reactions of passionate Transatlantic Carl Bildt.
In Japan, Merkel has failed to take up position of an independent foreign policy in any of the topics concerning Russia. Similar to the war in Syria, Merkel tends to picture developments, created by the US for geopolitical reasons, as inevitable events, whose consequences are to be taken by the Germans and Europeans. So the refugees from Syria are rebranded as a moral problem for the EU, although an immediate end to ethnic cleansing and the eviction of Syrians from their homes should be the humane dictate of the moment.
Among the causes of flight, never mentioned by the Chancellor as well, are the sanctions against Syria, which have driven the country into an economic disaster. They are affecting the civilian population of Syria in particular, because food supply and health care can only be maintained with much difficulty.
In the wake of this self-abandonment of German foreign policy, the SPD is playing the role of the “good cops”. For obvious reasons German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for the lifting of sanctions in Rostock: During the past three years the volume of trade with Russia decreased by 50 billion Euros. The German economy is urging the lifting of sanctions for some time already. Demands for an end to sanctions among others are coming from the German industry and agriculture, who both suffered extensive losses in their business with Russia broken away. According to the Eastern Committee of German Economy, in 2015 alone, German exports to Russia decreased by 7.5 billion Euros or 25.5 percent. Even the majority of Germans is in favor of lifting the EU sanctions against Russia or to loosen them at least.
However, the opinion of the Germans on this issue, seems to be utterly irrelevant.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted that the resistance in the European Union (EU)to sanctions against Russia is growing. The extension of the economic sanctions expiring on July 31, will be quite difficult, the SPD politician was quoted by the Lithuanian news agency BNS on Thursday. It would be a lot more complicated than in the past year, to find a common position on this. The sanctions were imposed in July 2014 and extended twice in 2015. Even in summer, nothing will change: The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has already announced that an extension will be imposed once again.
Anything other than a renewal of sanctions would be a sensation. The trends in the geopolitical environment are clear: In a few weeks NATO will advance its eastward expansion. In reality, NATO has actually committed, not to deploy any combat troops in its eastern European member states permanently. Concerning the upcoming summit in July in Warsaw, however, the alliance is determined to push for a decision allowing them, to conduct wargames with varying troops of the alliance in the Baltics on a regular basis. Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas told the newspaper Die Welt, that there must not be any gaps within the schedule and he calls for a “continuous presence of respective battalions of NATO in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania”. The objective: “deterrence has to become the new normality.”
In the corresponding keynote, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had declared that NATO is entitled, to defend the United States and the EU even on foreign soil. The Bundeswehr will be the first army utilized for this purpose in Eastern Europe. Basis of the intensification of the Cold War, is the declaration of Russia as an enemy, as it is enshrined in the new German military doctrine as well.