After the announcement by Stephen Seibert, a spokesman for the German chancellor’s office, that Angela Merkel will go to Moscow on her last trip abroad to talk with Putin, and then visit Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, politicians, experts and journalists are wondering about the purpose. Escape is.
Bohdan Nahajo, a longtime Svoboda radio journalist and diplomat, wrote that “it is strange that the German chancellor’s visit is shrouded in mystery and her motives are unclear.” These doubts were not dispelled by the statement of the German side, nor the brief information from the Kremlin, which included statements that the talks were related to “bilateral relations, and that it was scheduled to discuss current regional and international issues.” This new diplomatic rhetoric obscured, rather than shed light on, the German chancellor’s reasons for starting her “farewell” international trip in Moscow, then heading to Kiev. Contrary to the comments of the satirists, Merkel will certainly not go to Moscow, as she maintains warm relations with Putin. Quite the contrary, the German chancellor is said to hate the Russian president, and their many conversations in 2014, during the Ukraine crisis, wrote Ralph Pullman, author of the recently published biography of Angela Merkel, were so lively that politicians were supposed to shout at each other. Vladimir Putin reciprocated by welcoming the German chancellor in Sochi in the presence of his dog, knowing that Merkel had a childhood trauma, afraid of dogs because she had been bitten. It is not about personal sympathy, because there is no sympathy, but about more important matters, interests, and politics.
Panic in Kiev
In Ukraine, we are already accustomed to the fact that in the new international reality, the formula that Kiev has attached in recent years has ceased to be so important that partners do not talk about Ukrainian issues without the participation of interested parties. . However, the arrangement of Merkel’s talks, which would be initially in Moscow and then in Kiev, was met with some consternation, as if the meeting with Zelensky was only to inform the Ukrainian leader of what kind of arrangement had been made with Putin. One can speak of a bitter pill, the more the German chancellor, who was quietly relied upon in Ukraine, did not participate in the official celebrations of the thirtieth anniversary of independence and the inauguration of the so-called Crimean podium. Germany will be represented at this last meeting by Minister Heiko Maas, which means, according to many Ukrainian commentators, that Berlin deliberately and intentionally lowered the rank of its representation, because nothing prevents Merkel from staying several hours longer in Kiev. That’s another thing — after the White House announced that neither Biden nor Harris would come to Ukraine, and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, to replace them at the Crimean podium session — an unpleasant surprise that Zelensky’s team recently had to accept. days.
Keen observers of Ukrainian foreign policy, such as Tatiana Selina of Dzyrka Tianya, noted that during Minister Kuleba’s last visit to the United States in early August, the adjective “strategic” to describe US-US official relations disappeared from official communications and statements. Ukrainian that was always used in such cases in previous years. Selina sees this as a dangerous sign of the changing attitude of US diplomacy towards Kiev. Ukrainian observers also listened very carefully to Joe Biden’s recent speech on Afghanistan and decided that much of it could even be applied to their situation. Sergei Sidorenko, editor-in-chief of the liberal Ukrainian Truth newspaper, wrote that “Although the events took place thousands of kilometers from Kiev, they also changed the situation in our country.” How do? First of all, the United States, in his opinion, will be less inclined to engage in a policy of supporting democracy in countries as far away as Ukraine, and one of the main criteria for providing assistance will be the fight against corruption. And the willingness of countries that receive assistance that are able to solve their own problems, including security issues. All this together means, according to many Ukrainian commentators, that the political option of Kiev’s orientation towards Washington will now be much more difficult to implement.
If so, then the question of relations with Berlin returns, which, especially after the Merkel-Biden agreement on sanctions on Nord Stream 2, has become very tense. In the Ukrainian media, in this context, the word “betrayal” was repeated hundreds of times, and the actions announced in the German-American joint declaration to compensate Ukraine for losses were considered too generic, modest and generally “written with a finger on the water”. Most of the Ukrainian media quoted the statements of Yuri Vitrenko, the head of Naftogaz, who said about the Biden-Merkel agreement that we are dealing with Budapest Memorandum No. 2, that is, the wording of the alleged guarantees, in fact there are no such guarantees. . In Kiev, reports of the American media, including Bloomberg, are followed with great interest that Berlin, contrary to pressure from Washington, does not intend to “close” Nord Stream 2 if Moscow again begins to use gas weapons in order to soften the position of Ukraine. Zelensky’s meeting with Merkel in July took place in Berlin in a tense atmosphere, the difference of opinion cannot be bypassed, and today it is difficult to talk about hopes for a breakthrough in mutual relations. What is more, Germany still did not want to supply Kiev with weapons, even those considered exclusively for defense. Merkel, after meeting with Zelensky, stated that it was worth returning to the “Steinmeier formula” in the course of the talks on Donbass, until the atmosphere in Ukraine froze, since its acceptance is believed to mean approval of state federalization and Moscow’s permanent influence on the internal situation. Yuriy Macarskij writes in the Cenzor.net portal that Ukraine will in fact find itself in the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina after accepting Merkel’s proposal, a country that 25 years ago had similar solutions, and today is unable to function normally, what’s more, there is on the verge of Collapse and war, played by Moscow-backed politicians. Anna Celeste, a professor of Ukrainian political science, said in an interview with the radio station NV that Angela Merkel’s visit to Kiev aims, in her opinion, to break the deadlock over talks within the framework of the so-called Minsk coordination, and therefore the German chancellor intends to consult in Moscow first.
What did Merkel talk to Putin?
It is possible that Merkel also spoke with Putin about Lukashenka’s actions and the migration crisis at the borders with Lithuania, Latvia and now Poland. Rickard Gozoyak, a journalist for Svoboda Radio, recently posted a tweet in which he said that he was able to buy a ticket for a Lufthansa flight from Berlin to Minsk on September 21, which, in his opinion, may indicate that Germany intends to withdraw from the ban on flights to Belarus in the capital after the fact that Lukashenka’s men forced the Ryanair plane to land. Perhaps we are dealing with a “goodwill gesture” to normalize relations and prepare for a new wave of refugees, this time from Afghanistan.
Economic issues during my two visits to Chancellor Merkel are also important. It is not only about Gazprom’s preservation of the Ukrainian transit, but also about a new large project in which Germany is involved. Due to the tightening of climate policy of the European Union and the revolutionary changes proposed in the framework of the Fit 55 project, the issue of hydrogen supply to Germany, from Russia and Ukraine, is becoming more relevant. The big “future deal” that German companies like Siemens are already working on aims to make Germany a European hub for hydrogen supplies, which will be the fuel of the future. At the same time, Berlin wants to earn twice as much. According to Russian experts from the Skolkovo Center, if Europe and the world seriously implement the policy of ambitious climate goals, the demand for hydrogen by 2050 will increase 14 times. This means that in the face of a supply deficit, prices will grow faster than in the past, and those who, on the basis of long-term contracts, will be assured of a steady supply, can benefit from this growth. Russia has already bet on hydrogen production, which will be delivered to Germany via existing pipelines, and eventually in 2030 will be 5 million tons of this fuel. Perhaps that is why Berlin, according to some Russian experts, is “calm” when it comes to the use of Nord Stream 2 and the maintenance of Ukrainian transit. But this is only one of the sources of huge profits for German industry in the future. If we talk about the “green revolution” and the combustion of hydrogen, the working power turbines will have to be modernized. The first pilot project in this field is being carried out in the High North by the German company Siemens. The cost of rebuilding one turbine, thousands of such turbines being operated in the European Union and Russia, is at least 6 million euros. Finally, in order for Russia, as well as Ukraine and the countries of North Africa, to be able to supply hydrogen to Europe, they will need electrolyzers produced by German companies. According to Andrei Konoplyannik, professor, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, specializing in energy, perhaps the producers of this fuel, like Russia, will benefit from the “hydrogen revolution”, but equipment and technology suppliers, mainly from Germany, are necessary for the production and transportation of this fuel. For many years, the German machinery industry itself, in his opinion, would guarantee orders and transfer risks to others.
Perhaps that is why Germany, which perfectly uses economic weapons in its foreign policy, needs peace in Europe and openness to Russia, even if it comes at the cost of concessions from frontline states like Ukraine.
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