Expulsion of Russian diplomats provokes divisions within Berlin
Along with the United States and several European countries, Germany yesterday announced the expulsion of four Russian diplomats. German politicians, commenting on the decision of Angela Merkel's Cabinet, are far from being united in their opinion on this step.
"Sanctions should be based on facts, not assumptions," Günter Verheugen, former European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, told Spiegel. The argument in connection with the Skripal case reminds him of the announcement of the verdict: "The crime was not proven by the defendants, but one can imagine that he could have committed it."
Deputy Chair of the SPD faction Rolf Mützenich in his turn, called the decision to expel Russian diplomats "hasty". The Left Party's leader Sahra Wagenknecht sharply opposed the decision to expel Russian diplomats, which, however, did not become a surprise given the traditionally favorable attitude of the party towards Russia.
A Green party politician and foreign policy expert Jürgen Trittin also criticized the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Germany and other EU countries. "It is frivolous to expel diplomats without any reliable evidence, and act against Russia only on the basis of indirect evidence," he said. According to the politician, in the end, the West will not benefit from the expulsion of Russian diplomats - Russia will respond symmetrically, and further channels of dialogue will be blocked. Trittin is also the head of the German-Russian parliamentary group.
It is noteworthy that Trittin's colleague Omid Nouripour, who is foreign policy spokesman of the German Green Party, on the contrary, welcomed the decision of the federal government as a sign of solidarity with Britain. The foreign policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU Jurgen Hardt also stood up for the decision to expel Russian diplomats, saying that the evidence provided by Britain "is irrefutable."
Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that "the fact that France, Germany and Poland expelled 4 diplomats each, Denmark - two, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Romania, Croatia and Sweden - one is not serious. An important circumstance is that Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium and Austria refused to submit to the will of the UK in the EU, which have already formalized Brexit," he said.
"It is clear that the behavior of the largest European countries fits into the clear line of the US foreign policy. The countries that have adopted a consolidated decision within the framework of the EU led by the UK, dance to the US pipe, like Canada. Today, Australia also joined the diplomatic demarche, and it's all clear that we are dealing with a clear provocation. As a matter of fact, the former agent Skripal was poisoned by Western special services, not without the participation of the Mi-6 and Americans, most likely to increase pressure on Moscow before the presidential election to force the world community to raise its voice against Russia once again," Alexander Gusev drew attention.
"Speaking of the response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already said that it will respond adequately to these actions, and I think that it makes no sense to expel diplomats in the same way. Many countries that expelled one or two diplomats just formally confirmed the consolidated decision. 22 out of 28 countries either openly voted against or acted very gently. I think we should expect that Moscow will expel 2-3 diplomats, who work under cover and there will be no bigger response," the professor predicts.
The senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, in turn, drew attention to the fact that the countries expelling Russian diplomats, thereby limit the development of bilateral relations. "This is the first consequence that the EU countries will face. In addition, the reduction of the number of diplomats will certainly not be left without attention. The Russian side will give an adequate response to these countries," the expert said.
In addition, he noted that not all countries are ready to show "solidarity" with London. "The UK calls on the European countries to "solidarity", but has already abandoned this solidarity, since it decided to leave the European Union. So in terms of solidarity, the EU, of course, does not represent an inseparable space. It's about 16 countries out of 28," Vladimir Olenchenko pointed out.
According to him, this indicates that a new generation of politicians is growing in Europe, which are capable of pursuing an independent policy. "It should not be forgotten that the United Kingdom, despite its importance, is not the factor that is actually taken into account in Europe. The factor of the US is taken into account in Europe. Due to the fact that the US also announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, I would draw attention to the fact that the US ambassador in Moscow Jon Huntsman said that it was prepared a long time ago. It may be understood that it was prepared a long time ago and pretext or the situation was created to implement it," the senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded.