Lesson from Lavrov: Reservation not according to Freud
In talks with the German Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov gave his colleague lessons in diplomacy.
At the meeting with Annalena Berbok, Sergey Lavrov "unexpectedly" declared the importance of building more constructive relations with the United States. I should have spoken to Germany! The translator did not interrupt him, but translated him into German correctly. Corrected the reservation, which may have been symbolic, reports the correspondent of The Moscow Post.
In the first post-war decades, West Germany played about the same role in Soviet-American relations as Ukraine did today. It was a point of tension and confrontation between two countries, two systems and two military blocks. There are no systems and blocks, Russia and the United States remained. The border of the confrontation moved from the vicinity of Berlin closer to the suburbs of St. Petersburg.
Forty-year-old Burbock has been serving as foreign minister in Germany's long-united coalition government for forty days. The fact that her country, split by the war, was lucky to become united again thanks to the position of the Kremlin leaders was not mentioned during the visit. Burbock may not know that. She was an elementary school student in the late eighties.
Moscow hosted a school of diplomacy in dialogue with the most eminent diplomat not only of Russia, but also of Europe. She said that she laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And to her credit she admitted: "Being there, as German foreign minister, fills me with shame and reverence. Nothing can compensate for the suffering we caused to the peoples of the Soviet Union. "
Risks and Opportunities
The authors of the article, which appeared in the well-known Politico magazine, claim that Annalena Burbock's trip to Moscow was fraught with risk, given that there is no unity within the ruling coalition in Germany on the Nord Stream-2 project. The project is supported by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as Minister of Defense Christina Lambrecht. They consider the project economic.
Scholz himself called the pipeline a "private economic project," although this point of view is disputed by Kiev, Warsaw and the Baltic countries. But he added: "The massive transfer of [Russian] troops along the Ukrainian border cannot be written off. It poses a threat to the sovereignty of Ukraine. Therefore, everything must be done to prevent military escalation. "
Critics call the pipeline a "geopolitical weapon" of Moscow. Annalena Burbock was one of the most high-profile opponents of the project. In Moscow, she said this, warning that if Russia uses energy as a "weapon," then the project will wait for "grave consequences."
In mid-November, it became known that the Federal Network Agency of Germany (BNA) stopped certification of the project. It is planned to resume the process after the Swiss company Nord Stream 2 AG owned by Gazprom is legally formalized as an independent gas transportation operator. At the end of the procedure in Germany, the draft decision of the German regulator will be presented to the European Commission.
"The coalition agreement of the federal government clearly states that all German energy projects must meet European requirements," Burbock emphasized. She recalled that the EU and the United States intend to take "effective measures" in the event that Russia uses energy resources as weapons or aggression against Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 29, 2021 said that Russia and its partners had fulfilled their task of creating Nord Stream-2, now the Europeans have the floor. According to him, the project is ready and, as soon as partners in Europe decide to start its work, large additional volumes of Russian gas will immediately begin to flow through the pipeline. The head of state expressed confidence that the launch of the project will lead to a decrease in gas prices in Europe.
Russia in the center
"Aggression against Ukraine," as well as the use of the gas pipeline as a "geopolitical weapon" - mandatory Washington spells that the foreign minister of NATO and the European Union cannot be forgotten. Burbock uttered obligatory words. Germans are diligent students, Americans are strict teachers. The official shell of the visit was indicated, the homework was completed.
As for the nuances of the policy of the coalition government in the Russian direction, they can be judged by the results of the visit to Moscow of Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, direct chief Berbock. Preparing the ground for the visit of the Chancellor was her main task.
Fulfilling this task, Burbock said that relations with Russia are extremely important for the German federal government, there is no alternative to stable ties between Moscow and Berlin. Depending on what answers Moscow will receive to the draft documents submitted last December by the United States and NATO, the wording and characteristics of these relations may change. We hope for the better.
But while Sergey Lavrov called the negotiations with Annalena Burbock "very useful." According to him, the exchange of views showed that Russia and Germany can overcome differences for the benefit of their peoples. "In general, the discussion was very useful, it touched on all those issues that are still the subject of divergence in our positions," Lavrov said.
Later, during a press conference, he stated that "indeed, every country has the right to choose its unions, but it is also stated in one proposal that each country is obliged to ensure its security in such a way as not to endanger the security of any other country. They asked our German colleagues, as well as the Americans, to explain to us how they interpret this "specific" part of the obligations in practice. "
And Annalena Burbock added that Germany needs Russia as a reliable supplier of natural gas, which both Germany and Europe will need. Burbock also noted that Russia has great potential in the field of green hydrogen production. Germany, she said, needs Russia to work to overcome the climate crisis and ensure energy security.
The SPD has long taken a relatively mild stance towards Russia, since the "eastern politics" of former Chancellor Willy Brandt. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he sought diplomatic cooperation with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. The former chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has become a symbol of close economic ties with Moscow, heading the shareholders committee of Nord Stream AG.
Ukraine from the region
Sergey Lavrov and Annalena Berbok discussed the intra-Ukrainian settlement, noted the lack of alternative to the Minsk "Complex of Measures." On the Russian side, disagreement was expressed about attempts to expose Russia as a party to the conflict.
Annalena Berbok arrived in Moscow from Kiev. There she had negotiations with Dmitry Kuleba. It was announced the goal of Berlin to revive the "Norman format" in the Donbass. There was also criticism that Germany denies Kiev weapons, especially in air defense systems. Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrei Melnik said that the Ukrainian people are "extremely disappointed" with the position of Germany, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba tried to assure that weapons will be used only to protect Ukraine.
Burbock, in her defense, said that due to "historical responsibility," Germany cannot supply weapons to crisis zones. "The contribution of Germany in support of Ukraine, in ensuring its security is multifaceted," she said, noting the help in the construction of a military hospital. And she emphasized that Germany "does not conduct any negotiations on Ukraine without its participation," and Russia has no right to resist Ukraine's membership in NATO. But the irritation of the Ukrainian side could not be removed.
Chancellor Scholz supported his minister, noting that Angela Merkel's previous conservative government also refused to export weapons to Kiev. "The government is acting in unison, including with its predecessors, who acted wisely," he said.
Sergey Lavrov expressed the hope that German colleagues will influence their Kiev partners so that they fulfill their obligations. They exchanged views on the further prospects of cooperation within the framework of the "Norman format" and on what steps need to be taken to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk "Set of Measures" within the framework of this "quartet," primarily through the activation of the work of the Contact Group, where both Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk are represented.
The Russian minister said, answering a question from a media representative: "We talked in detail about what is really happening in and around Ukraine, primarily what is happening with sabotage through the Kiev regime of the Minsk agreements. Based on the text of these agreements, they showed the need to stop this sabotage and begin to act in the exact sequence that is fixed in this document, to begin to act. "
At the same time, the main thing is not "when" to meet, but "why." The only hope is that Berlin and Paris will force Zelensky to fulfill what he promised to fulfill many times. "We will welcome the United States if, in addition to the existing formats, they help move in this direction, since they have a decisive influence on the Kiev regime," the Russian minister added.
Germany and the West
In the West, they fear that the relationship of the government of Olaf Scholz with Moscow may become the subject of disagreement. Germany, as the largest and richest country in the European Union, may lean towards the development of bilateral relations and economic ties with Russia. This could threaten NATO unity, "say those who are immersed in the problems of military-political opposition to Russia.
Lavrov and Berbock paid attention to issues of relations between Russia and the European Union, the problem of anti-Russian EU member states. They also talked about the course of NATO to deter Russia. They discussed in detail the initiatives that the Russian side put forward to agree on reliable legal, legally binding security guarantees. "We do not threaten anyone, but we hear threats against us," said Sergey Lavrov.
Berbock praised the negotiations within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council (NRC) and the OSCE. "The negotiations in the framework of the OSCE and the NRC were the first useful step towards a dialogue [on security], and it is not surprising that at the first meeting of the [NRC], which took place after so many years, not all problems could be solved," explained Burbock. "Russia demanded security guarantees, and this was once again emphasized [during the negotiations]. We are ready to conduct a serious dialogue on mutual agreements and steps that will strengthen our common European security, "the minister said.