This is a complicated word, Germany
The Kremlin's interest in change in Germany is justified. And changes are expected this month.
According to polls, Olaf Scholz, Vice Chancellor, Minister of Finance of Germany and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) became the leader in the televised debates of candidates for the post of chancellor (36%), ahead of Annalene Berbock (Green Party, 30%). Potential receiver Merkel Armin Lashet (CDU/CSU) won 25% of the vote, reports the correspondent of The Moscow Post.
Elections are not far off
The election of the chancellor is not direct, the results depend on the number of votes collected by the party, as well as on who leads the ruling coalition. In preparation for the elections and Sunday's televised debate, the fight against the pandemic and climate change, the socio-economic situation in the country and developments in Afghanistan were discussed. Little was said about Russia. By the degree of rigidity of the position in relation to Russia, the Greens stand out, who oppose the Nord Stream-2 project, are known for attacking the Kremlin. Burbock does not exclude military support for Ukraine. But she fell for income that she did not declare, and was also convicted of plagiarism.
The CDU/CSU program contains hope for an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the return of "legal status" to Crimea. In terms of policy in the Russian direction, conservatives are calling for cohesion between the EU and NATO against the backdrop of "threats" emanating from the Russian Federation, including misinformation, cyber attacks and propaganda. The White House should be happy with that.
The CDU/CSU board, led by Merkel in the eyes of voters, is associated with stability, reliance on the United States and European integration under the leadership of Germany. But Merkel is ending her rule amid the failure of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan. I even had to admit that the government "underestimated the situation." This can contribute to a drop in the rating, an increase in the chances of the SPD. Merkel, supporting CDU Chairman Armin Lachet, said that he could "preserve the continuity of the course." But the situation of Christian Democrats also began to deteriorate after Lachet got on the screens smiling during a speech by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier when they visited flood-affected areas.
Why the SPD?
Elections to the Bundestag may lead to the post of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is 63 years old. This party has its current name for more than 130 years, was banned during the Nazi regime. In 1959, the SPD adopted a model of a social market economy, agreed to the western orientation of Germany and the restoration of the army. The slogan of replacing capitalism with a "new social system" was adopted, a course was announced on market economy with the active participation of the state in socio-economic affairs.
Olaf Scholz today holds the post of Minister of Finance, belongs to the conservative wing of the SPD. The floods in western Germany, which killed and destroyed infrastructure, did not contribute to the popularity of current coalition leaders, including Merkel. But the allocation of financial assistance is a direct responsibility of the Minister of Finance. He has experience as a manager and understands "what the Germans need." The "track record" of his predecessors can also help.
In the post-war period, the Social Democrats led the government for 21 years, were part of the coalition as members - for 34 years. With the names of such German chancellors as Willy Brandt (1969-74), Helmut Schmidt (1974-82), such concepts as "new Eastern politics" are associated. Gerhard Schroeder (1998-2005), leading Germany in the post-Soviet period, advocated strategic partnership with Russia, rapprochement between Russia and the European Union. Scholz supported the policy of Chancellor Schroeder. In February 2004, he resigned as party secretary general at the same time as Schroeder, when he decided to resign as chairman of the SPD.
According to the results of the polls, Olaf Scholz seems to be the most suitable candidate for chancellor.
Judging by the party program, the position of the SPD is to ensure, together with the Russian Federation, a movement towards "general security, disarmament and arms control," work on energy and climate change, and fight the pandemic. If the Social Democrats win, the course of the government will depend on the composition of the coalition. Olaf Scholz stated that he sees the Free Democratic Party of Germany and the Green Party as partners. According to other sources, he stands for the government of the "big coalition," including the SPD and CDU.
What do the Germans need?
At a recent joint final press conference with Joe Biden, Merkel, speaking of an energy partnership with the United States, warned of consequences in case of violations of Moscow's obligations to transit Russian gas through Ukraine. But her merits include the fact that she defended Nord Stream-2, which is important for the economy and international prestige of Germany.
"Boring bureaucrat" and "strong business executive" Olaf Scholz understands the importance of trade and economic relations with Russia, as evidenced indirectly by his silence on the fate of Nord Stream-2. They say that he was even ready to purchase LNG from American companies, subject to the lifting of sanctions on the project. Like Merkel, Olaf Scholz advocates dialogue with Moscow and regrets the failure of the German-French proposal to meet with the Russian president.
Although Olaf Scholz, like Merkel, is known for criticism about the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation and sympathy for the "Berlin patient," he does not consider Ukraine ready for membership in NATO or the European Union. He is also against the supply of weapons to Kiev. Like German President Steinmeier, Olaf Scholz can support granting Donbass special status and the right to elections before transferring control of the border to Kiev.
According to the German statistical agency, according to 2018 data, more than 254 thousand former Russian citizens lived in Germany. According to the census, about 400 thousand Russian Germans live in Russia. Heinrich Martens, President of the Federal National-Cultural Autonomy of Russian Germans, said, commenting on this figure, that there was no mandatory question about nationality in the questionnaire. Many did not indicate it and the real figure, according to his estimates, is about 600-700 thousand people.
Trade through sanctions
Germany is Russia's leading economic partner, lender, investor. German companies that have settled in the Russian Federation continue to invest in their production, build new logistics complexes. Shopping concerns open supermarkets in the regions. But new companies are afraid of sanctions that entail risks to their business.
In 2020, Russia's bilateral trade with Germany reached $42 billion. Compared to 2019, its volume decreased by 21% or by $11.2 billion. Russia's exports in 2020 decreased by 34% compared to 2019 to $18.5 billion. In 2013, trade reached $75 billion, had an upward trend. Russia's exports to Germany then grew by almost 6% to $37 billion.
The Working Group on German Energy Reports reported that according to the results of the first half of 2021, natural gas took first place in the country's energy balance. In second place in oil and oil products with a share of 28.6%, in third - renewable energy (16.8%). Natural gas supplies by Gazprom in 2019 amounted to 57 billion cubic meters. Since the beginning of deliveries in 1973, German partners have received more than 1 trillion cubic meters of gas. By importing oil from Russia, Germany covers a third of its needs. The Airbas concern receives from Russia more than 65% of the titanium it needs. Germany's dependence on Russia may also appear in the supply of rare earth metals, as well as lithium, necessary for the production of batteries.
Moments are good and not very
For the outgoing Merkel, there remain "differences in the political systems" of Germany and Russia. During her reign, the products of the Bavarian auto industry noticeably increased on the roads of Moscow and other major cities of Russia, and Gazprom increased gas exports.
Merkel herself in 2014 was among the sponsors of the Kiev whirlpool, and then co-authored the Minsk agreements. As chancellor, she was a "key interlocutor" of Vladimir Putin during the days of the coup in Kiev, as well as before and after the events when Crimea and Sevastopol returned to the Russian Federation. Suffice it to say that between January 29, 2014 (when the inadmissibility of any external interference in Ukraine was emphasized) and January 31, 2015 (when a sharp aggravation of the situation in southeastern Ukraine was discussed with the participation of F. Oland), more than 40 telephone conversations took place between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, as well as three of their personal meetings!
"Differences in systems" were, are, and are likely to remain. This is not only about politics, parliaments and presidents. German soldiers as part of NATO units again serve in the Baltic states, and Iskanders are on combat duty in the Kaliningrad region. Despite the fact that veterans of World War II are leaving, Russian search engines continue to dig up more and more new, hidden by time and intent, burials of fallen soldiers of the Red Army and ruined residents of areas under occupation. Agree that German politicians are not to say: "Russia is challenging our values. We do not want this to become a serious military threat to Europe again. "
It is noteworthy that in October 2014, Vladimir Putin congratulated the German Chancellor "on the occasion of the national holiday - German Unity Day." The roots of the differences between Merkel's attitude to the Crimea, and Vladimir Putin's - to the unification of Germany are hidden not in different "political systems," but in something else, deeper and incomprehensible for German logic. Germany, in this sense, is a complex phenomenon.