In an analysis piece posted on the energetyka24.com website, business journalist Jakub Wiech points out that a politician with Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has voiced criticism of Western sanctions on Russia.
The politician, Michael Kretschmer, governor of the German state of Saxony, has said in a Twitter post, as cited by the Polish journalist, that "Russia is a strategically important partner" for his country and that "for a better relationship we need an end to the sanctions."
Wiech says that a new opening in relations between Berlin and Moscow could come amid business projects such as the Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline, which aims to provide Germany with an additional 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year.
The Nord Stream 2 gas link is being built under the Baltic Sea and over the heads of Central European countries amid an ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, the kind of approach that "brings to mind some of the darkest moments" of European history, Wiech says in his analysis piece.
The Polish journalist says Germany’s Kretschmer posted the tweet shortly after meeting President Vladimir Putin at an economic conference in St. Petersburg, a Russian port city on the Baltic Sea.
Wiech adds that the tweet caused a political storm in Germany. He cites the head of Germany’s CDU party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as saying in an interview following Kretschmer’s remarks, that sanctions should remain in place "so long as there is no change to Russian behaviour" in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
However, the Polish journalist is quick to observe that, despite those words by the CDU leader, Germany’s Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, who also attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, signed a landmark declaration of economic cooperation with his Russian counterpart Maxim Oreshkin as part of efforts to boost bilateral business and help "put Russia's economy back on its feet,” as Wiech puts it.
Wiech cited pro-Kremlin Russian media as reporting that this was the first such agreement since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
At the same time, Germany’s Siemens corporation concluded a EUR 1.1 billion deal for the delivery of trains to Russia, according to the Polish journalist.
Such deals between Germany and Russia put the European Union in an uncomfortable position, Wiech argues, especially as he says Russia has broken international law with its illegal annexation of Crimea, military operations in eastern Ukraine, the downing of a passenger plane flying over Ukraine, and an unlawful attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait, followed by the capture and imprisonment of sailors.
The Polish journalist says in his analysis that the next several months will be crucial for how Germany shapes its future relations with Russia.
If the CDU/CSU-SPD coalition government stays in power in Berlin, Germany will probably edge even closer to Russia, according to Wiech.
This, in turn, will enable Russia to grow in strength in Europe, he says.
The journalist concludes that if Moscow makes an aggressive move against the West at any time in the future, Germany will in part be responsible for this.