BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – German government advisors are speculating about Russia’s possible foreign policy offensives and discussing countermeasures to be taken. According to a research paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Russia “has continuously developed and further diversified” its foreign policy “tool chest” over the past few years. Today it includes “enhanced military capabilities, alongside numerous ‘soft’ tools.” like “the orchestrated disinformation campaign in traditional mass media and online social networks, the instrumentalization of ethnic minorities, use of civil society organizations, economic cooperation, or economic pressure.” The research paper describes fictitious scenarios, such as Russian support for extreme right-wing parties in Western European election campaigns as well as steps to ward off Russian influence. The types of international activities being ascribed to Russia are practices long in use by NATO countries – particularly Germany.
In its efforts to assume the consequences of the fact that German foreign policy analyzing institutions had not foreseen Moscow’s strategic foreign policy initiatives – e. g. Russia’s strong reaction to the overthrow of the Ukrainian government or its intervention in the Syrian war (german-foreign-policy.com reported ) – the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has recently elaborated eleven scenarios, based on speculations about various, mainly offensive, Russian activities and possible countermeasures. Some of the outlined activities correspond to aspects of measures Moscow has already applied over the past few years, while others have been extrapolated into the future. For the most part, they are measures Germany, other EU and NATO countries have long since been using to achieve their foreign policy objectives. Russia has now begun to mimic these measures or, at least, SWP supposes that Russia could eventually imitate them.
The Extreme Right
In another scenario, the SWP outlines Moscow’s “instrumentalization of ethnic minorities,” particularly ethnic Germans of Russia. The scenario depicts fictitious electoral successes of a German-Russian political party, working closely with Russia, and efforts of the Moscow government to impose itself as a sort of protective power for German-Russians, thereby gaining influence over German policymaking. Moscow had, in fact, taken steps in this direction at the beginning of the year. However, this corresponds exactly to an old German political strategy. Official German government institutions maintain close contacts to German-speaking minorities in numerous countries of Europe and Central Asia, by way of the German interior ministry and several front organizations, such as the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN). Germany financially supports the organizations of these ethnic minorities and invites them regularly to Germany, where they discuss the situation with interior ministry representatives. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In Poland, a seat is reserved for a representative of the German-speaking minority in the Sejm (parliament). The parliamentarian, holding this seat, usually maintains close contacts to German politicians, for example to the German government’s commissioner for “questions of repatriation and national minorities.” Romania’s current president is the long-time leader of one of the “German-Romanian” organizations. President Klaus Johannis owes his political career to support provided the country’s German-language minority by German government agencies. He has always loyally cooperated with Berlin. Shortly prior to the first round in the November 2, 2014 presidential elections – in which he was victorious – Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly came out in support of his candidature. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In his capacity as an official of the “Romanian Germans,” Johannis is explicitly called upon to serve as a “bridge builder” between Berlin and Bucharest. This is also meant to open special channels for the German government to enhance its influence in his country.
Multipolar, Rather than Unilateral
Other scenarios of the SWP study describe measures of classical international hegemonic policies. For example, the think tank walks the reader through possible developments of the balances of power in the Middle East, should Russia include a bilateral “security agreement” with Baghdad to its already existing intelligence service cooperation with Syria, Iran and Iraq. The SWP recommends steps the EU can make to “close any political spaces” in the Middle East that Russia might threaten to penetrate. The study also discusses what reaction to take, should Moscow not accept the deployment of NATO’s missile defense system in Eastern Europe and announce its own deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Western Russia. Also analyzed are – purely speculative – Russian military interventions in Kazakhstan or Tajikistan, as well as a possible merger of North and South Ossetia into the Russian Federation. All of these examples represent measures that, up to the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation or Moscow’s intervention in Syria, had all been monopolized by NATO countries. However, they are now also being applied by Russia. Moscow’s objective, according to SWP, is “to replace the American-led unilateral with a multipolar global order.” Berlin is preparing countermeasures.