Tag Archives: Russia

The European Union must punish Putin for Navalny’s arrest by cutting off the flow of money: German Weber | Instant News

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union should punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and thousands of his supporters with targeted financial sanctions, the leader of the bloc’s biggest political alliance said on Sunday.

People hold signs in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in downtown Dublin, Ireland, January 23, 2021. REUTERS / Clodagh Kilcoyne

Police detained more than 3,000 people and used force to disperse rallies across Russia on Saturday in support of Navalny, who was arrested last weekend when he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since he was poisoned with a nerve agent.

“It is unacceptable that the Russian leadership is trying to shorten the growing protests by arresting thousands of demonstrators,” Manfred Weber, a senior German conservative and head of the center-right EPP group in the European Union Parliament, told German newspaper group RND. .

“EU foreign ministers are not allowed to avoid this once again and stop at general pleas,” said Weber.

“The European Union has to hit where it hurts the Putin system – and that’s the money,” Weber said. Therefore, the EU must cut financial transactions from Putin’s inner circle, he added.

Moreover, the threat to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is meant to double shipments of natural gas from Russia to Germany, must remain on the table, Weber added.

A German government spokesman declined to comment when asked if Berlin was willing to support new sanctions against Russia following Navalny’s arrest.

EU lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in response to Navalny’s arrest.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who continues to support the project despite criticism elsewhere in the EU, said on Thursday that her view of the project has not changed despite the Navalny case.

The United States, EU and Britain all condemned Russia’s handling of security forces against Saturday’s protests, and the French and Italian foreign ministers on Sunday both expressed support for sanctions.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Edited by Alex Richardson


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Who is Matthias Warnig, Putin’s friend from former East Germany? | Europe | Latest news and events from all continents | DW | Instant News

Matthias Warnig is, in many ways, an extraordinary person. The 65-year-old is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oldest German friend and the most activeGerman in the Russian business environment. He is a former Stasi agent who became a banker in the 1990s. Since then, he has sat on the supervisory boards of many German-Russian banks and companies.

He is currently the CEO of Nord Stream 2, and happens to be in the rolein a recent YouTube video by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), in which Russian opposition activists exposed a wide network of corruption surrounding the construction of a palace estate for the Russian president on the Black Sea coast.

In the video, Navalnymentions Warnig when talking about the exchange of letters between Putin’s ex-wife Lyudmila and a German friend of hers in the mid-1990s. One of the letters was sent from the Warnig fax machine. The Russian opposition leader, citing a DW article, said that Warnig provided financial assistance to Putin, a former KGB officer in Dresden, and his family. It is thought the two had met through their respective secret services in former East Germany, but the official route is that they made contact only later, at St. Petersburg. Petersburg, after they both changed professions.

Meeting Putin ‘no problem’

Warnig likes to avoid publicity. He prefers to operate in the background. Austrian newspaper Pers published an interview with him in 2018, in which he was asked how often he met Putin. Warnig replied that the Russian president does not have a cell phone, before adding: “But if I want something and need to see it, we arrange it.”

In Putin’s 20 years ruling Russia, Warnig has become the most influential German business manager in the Russian economy.

In Pers, Warnig said he has accepted this position for two reasons, which are both coincidence and interdependent. “I received most of the seats on the supervisory board in 2012,” he said. “Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2012, and my contract is running out. So I am open to accepting new assignments. At the same time there was conflict between the then president, Dmitri Medvedev, and the government. Medvedev’s decision that all ministers and senior civil servants have to give up his position on the supervisory board. And then they need people to fill these posts. “

He dismissed speculation that, as Putin’s confidant, he had control over the running of business. “No, absolutely not. I’m not a spokesman for the Kremlin. And I didn’t report to the Kremlin, or chat casually about what happened there.”

Matthias Warnig and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder await Vladimir Putin at the North Stream reception on the occasion of Schröder’s 70th birthday in 2014

From Rosneft to Schalke 04

Matthias Warnig’s list of employers includes some of the largest companies in Russia. He has sat on the supervisory board of the state oil companies Transneft and Rosneft since 2011. On the Rosneft board he works with Gerhard Schröder: The former German chancellor, also a friend of Putin, has been its chairman since 2017. Schröder, however, is not mentioned in the film Navalny.

Warnig is also on the supervisory board of Russia’s VTB bank. And until 2015 he held the same position as the St. bank. Petersburg Rossiya [“Russia”] – which, according to Navalny’s video exposure and various media reports, are linked to President Putin’s inner circle.

From 2012 to 2018, Warnig chaired aluminum producer RUSAL’s supervisory board, but he had to relinquish this position after US sanctions were imposed on the company. However, the German executive quickly found another one – in his homeland. In 2019 he secured a seat on the supervisory board of German football club FC Schalke 04, whose main sponsor is the Russian energy company Gazprom. Several fans protested against his appointment.

Nord Stream 2

Germany is determined to continue with Nord Stream 2, despite objections from the EU and US

Main project: Nord Stream 2

Warnig’s most important current project is the construction of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that runs along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Warnig is the managing director of the Swiss-based company Nord Stream 2, of which one of the most important owners is Gazprom. Previously, for ten years, he ran his predecessor, Nord Stream, which laid the first twin pipes across the Baltic Sea. Both projects should benefit the eastern German state, which means for Warnig they are close to home: He comes from the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin.

It is an irony of fate that Warnig’s most important project is threatened with extinction when the Russian opposition politiciansAlexei Navalny was taken to Germany for treatment. In August 2020, Navalny survived a near deadly poisoning on Russian soil with the nerve agent Novichok. Call for the Nord Stream 2 project, already under US sanctions, frozen or stopped altogethergetting louder. Given the fact that Germany and Russia plan to continue the controversial project despite this resistance, Warnig can be said to have successfully fulfilled his role as lobbyist for Russia in Germany.

Adapted from Russian into German by Markian Ostaptschuk


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The German CDU confirmed Laschet as the new leader in the postal ballot | Instant News

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats confirmed Armin Laschet as leader of their new party on Friday following the vote, which is needed to legally enforce her election by delegates in digital voting on Saturday.

Laschet, prime minister of Germany’s most populous state and continuity candidate for Merkel, won 83.35% of the valid postal votes cast by 1,001 delegates, the CDU said. He beat long-time conservative Friedrich Merz in Saturday’s online voting by a margin of 521-466.

Laschet must now unify a conservative bloc that has never been entirely comfortable with Merkel’s centrist direction, even though she has won four consecutive federal elections.

“CDU remains Germany’s European party,” Laschet told reporters, stressing that he wanted his leadership to be marked by dialogue with the party’s grassroots.

Merkel, Europe’s top politician and a consistent winner with German voters since taking office in 2005, said she would not run for chancellor again in September’s federal elections.

Since stepping down as CDU leader in December 2018, the party has struggled to find a suitable successor.

In voting for Laschet, the delegation selected a more suitable candidate for the left-wing Green party, second behind the conservatives in opinion polls and seen as a potential coalition partner in September.

Laschet has taken a similar position to Merkel on several key issues such as relations with Russia.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper due to be published on Saturday, he said the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to Europe should continue.

EU lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop completing the pipeline in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

“The question of whether the gas should reach us by land or sea has nothing to do (with Navalny’s arrest),” Laschet told the newspaper, adding that he condemned Navalny’s arrest very strongly.

Merkel said last year that Laschet, 59, had the “tools” to run for chancellor, which would have come closest to supporting anyone.

But even as party leader, Laschet is not guaranteed to be a candidate for CDU chancellor and his Bavarian sister Christian Social Union (CSU).

CSU leader Markus Soeder has asked the CDU / CSU alliance, “Union”, to decide on his chancellor candidate only after state elections in mid-March, opening up the possibility that he could run if Laschet stumbled.

Written by Paul Carrel, editing by Thomas Escritt and David Gregorio


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Libya Political Dialogue Forum – Statement by France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States (21 January 2021) | Instant News

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States welcomed the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) vote in favor of a new interim executive authority election mechanism, which will guide Libya to national elections on December 24. , 2021. This is an important step towards the unity of Libya. The LPDF decision affirms the clear demands of the Libyan people that it is time for a change in the status quo. We urge all Libyan parties to act promptly and in good faith to complete adoption through the LPDF of a united and inclusive government. As participants in the Berlin Conference process and international partner Libya, we will give our full support to the LPDF’s efforts.

We also welcome the appointment of the UN Secretary General Ján Kubiš as the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya, and the appointment of Raisedon Zenenga as UNSMIL Coordinator and Georgette Gagnon as Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, and we will fully support them in their important role. We express our continued thanks to Acting UN Special Representative, Stephanie Williams, for her unwavering leadership in UN mediation until Mr Kubiš took up his position.

One year after the Berlin Conference, we underlined the important role of the international community in supporting a political solution in Libya as well as our ongoing partnerships with members of the Berlin Process. We remind members of the Berlin Process of the solemn commitment we all made at the summit one year ago, strengthened by UNSCR 2510. In particular, we must continue to support the ceasefire, restore full respect to the UN arms embargo, and end foreign poisoning. interference that undermines the aspirations of all Libyans to re-establish their sovereignty and choose their future peacefully through national elections. It is imperative that all Libyan and international actors support steps towards the full implementation of the Libyan ceasefire agreement signed on 23 October last year, including the immediate opening of coastal roads and the removal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries.


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Germany regrets the US decision to sanction Russian vessels involved in Nord Stream 2 | Instant News

BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States has informed Germany that it plans to impose sanctions on a Russian pipeline laying vessel involved in the construction of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, the German Economy Ministry said on Monday.

FILE PHOTOS: A road sign directs traffic towards the entrance of the Nord Stream 2 gas line landing facility in Lubmin, Germany, 10 September 2020. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

“We record the announcement with regret,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy in Berlin.

German business daily Handelsblatt previously reported US sanctions will take effect on Tuesday as part of the Act Against America’s Enemies Through Sanctions (CAATSA).

It said sanctions would be imposed on the Russian pipeline laying ship “Fortuna” and its owner, KVT-RUS.

Nord Stream 2, designed to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream subsea gas pipeline, will pass through Ukraine, eliminating lucrative transit costs. The project has become a point of contention between Moscow and Washington, with the United States seeking to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

The group behind the pipeline suspended work in December 2019 due to threats of sanctions from Washington, even though the project was nearing completion.

Germany and European allies accuse Washington of using the newly introduced CAATSA sanctions regime to interfere with their foreign and energy policies.

According to Refinitiv ship tracking data, Fortuna is still anchored in the Baltic Sea near Rostock in northern Germany.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin told Handelsblatt that Washington would continue to take “all necessary and appropriate steps” to prevent Nord Stream 2.

“Although we do not comment on future sanctions measures, we will continue to exchange ideas with allies and partners on potential sanctions issues,” the spokesman said.

The US government hopes Germany will reconsider its position on Nord Stream 2, he added.

The US State Department said it was not reviewing possible sanctions action and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A German government spokesman told reporters earlier on Monday that Berlin’s view of the pipeline remains unchanged, namely that Nord Stream 2 is a private sector project.

Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom is implementing the project together with Western partners Uniper, Wintershall, Engie, OMV and Shell.

US President-elect Joe Biden has opposed Nord Stream 2 in the past, but it is unclear if he can compromise on the issue after taking office on Wednesday.

Handelsblatt quoted a spokesperson for Nord Stream 2 as saying that it is up to the European Union and governments in the countries involved to protect the company from any sanctions.

Gazprom declined to comment and Nord Stream 2 could not immediately be reached for comment. KVT-RUS could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Edited by Maria Sheahan, Peter Graff and Catherine Evans


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