The US-enforced EU Sanctions Against Russia Will Make Both Sides Weakened, But Who Won’t

On the Contradictions between Washington and Berlin on Ukraine



The United States is stubbornly pushing the Kiev regime toward the use of military force against the protesting Donets Basin. This gives rise to doubts: does Washington really care about the fate of the Kiev junta?

Is the U.S. perhaps provoking tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border for other purposes which lie not so much in the plane of relations with Russia as in relations with its European allies, first and foremost with Germany?

Let us recall that in October 2013 Germany’s Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the German Marshall Fund of the United States presented a joint report titled «New Power, New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World». 

In January 2014 German President Joachim Gauck elaborated on the main points of this document in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. In general terms, these points are as follows:

The state of the economy of Germany depends on exports of German products; therefore, the FRG has an interest in maintaining free access to foreign markets, as well as a stable situation in zones of German foreign market interests.

However, since the U.S. «is sending clear signals that their engagement in the world will be more selective in future,» Germany must «take on a lot more tasks and responsibilities», promoting the values of democracy, the free market and international cooperation, including on the territory of states in which conflicts exist or are developing.

The German experts note that Germany must contend with the fact that among its important trade partners are states with authoritarian regimes. These «conflicts between German values and interests…must be balanced from case to case».

The concept of Germany’s «new power» and «new responsibility» is essentially Berlin’s «memorandum of intent» to play a more independent role not only in Europe, but in the world as a whole; however, on a number of issues Germany’s approach does not coincide with America’s.



In particular, the neoconservatives in Obama’s entourage have noted that Berlin is attempting, albeit in a veiled form, to challenge the United States with regard to Germany’s policy on countries which the neocons consider «rogue states» (such as North Korea or Iran) or undemocratic (including Russia, Venezuela and several others).

The American neoconservatives were especially alarmed by an interview which Germany’s new special coordinator for Russia policy Gernot Erler gaveto the journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations in January 2014.

Erler harshly criticized the actions of the previous government of Germany, as well as American politicians and diplomats, during the events on the Kiev Maidan and took an understanding view of Russia’s concern about the economic consequences the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU would have for Russia.

Apparently those in the American political elite who are opposed to reducing U.S. presence in Europe, as well as U.S. satellites among the «young Europeans» (Poland and the Baltic states), have decided to use the situation in Ukraine to draw Russia into a conflict which they themselves inspired in order to achieve four goals at once:

1. To prevent the U.S. from abandoning its global imperial ambitions. 

2. To drive a wedge between Russia and Europe and weaken both sides through economic sanctions against Russia. 

3. To increase U.S. military presence on the European subcontinent within the framework of NATO and rally European allies around the U.S. on the pretext of repelling the «Russian menace». 

4. To put Germany’s policy under the control of Washington and the European Atlantists.  

The difference in the German and American approaches to the Ukrainian crisis is fairly obvious.

For example, Berlin has invested a large amount of resources in a «soft power» policy with regard to Ukraine, hoping to bring its protégé Vitali Klitschko to power in the next presidential election in 2015.

Judging by surveys, before the coup Klitschko had a chance of becoming the president of Ukraine by lawful means in 2015, which explains Berlin’s attempts to return the process of regime change in the country to a constitutional course. Washington, on the contrary, tried to escalate the conflict as much as possible in order to force Viktor Yanukovich to capitulate entirely and resign as president. 

Amid street clashes in Kiev, the moderate opposition parties, including Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR, started losing support, and at the same time radical nationalist and neo-Nazi groups, whose fighters fired on police and threw Molotov cocktails at them, began to gain influence. These groups have been being financed from the U.S. for two decades, and their activists have been trained in Poland and the Baltic states on American money.

All foreign influence on the course of events on the Maidan gradually focused in the hands of employees of the U.S. embassy in Kiev, including representatives of American intelligence.

And when the Weimar Triangle (Germany, France and Poland) was able to convince Viktor Yanukovich to agree to early presidential elections in December 2014, it did not suit Washington, which supported an armed coup d’état which brought pro-American politicians from Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party to power in Kiev.

Thus Germany’s first attempt at implementing its «New Power, New Responsibility» strategy failed. The Americans disrupted the implementation of the February 21 agreement on the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, which had been signed by the foreign minister of Germany. Confidence in Germany as an influential mediator and peacemaker was undermined.

And the inclusion, against the recommendations of Berlin, of radical nationalists in the temporary government of Ukraine, the arming of insurgents regrouped as the National Guard, and the making of the anti-Russian ideology into the official ideology of the new regime led to Crimea’s secession from Ukraine. The residents of Crimea, the absolute majority of whom are Russians, refused to become the victims of neo-Nazi terrorism.

Overall, Germany is currently taking a more level-headed position than the United States on the issue of settling the conflict between the Kiev regime and the broad grassroots movement in the eastern regions of Ukraine which is demanding a referendum on the federalization of the state structure.

Nevertheless, Berlin is forced to follow in the wake of U.S. policy in matters concerning the sanctions against Russia, which are detrimental to the German economy; the increase of American military presence in Europe; and the movement of NATO troops to the east.

In its relations with the United States, Germany has never gotten over the syndrome of the nation that lost the war… 

It remains to be seen what the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany think about this.


Vladimir SEDOV | Strategic Culture Foundation

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