On the eve of the Paris meeting, “Norman Quartet” Russian-German relations are faced with a new challenge. Two Russian diplomats left the German capital because of allegations of a lack of support for the investigation of the murder of a Chechen warlord Zelimkhan khangoshvili in August of this year. Scandal, who was to disappear quickly from the headlines, once again received wide coverage in the German press and became one of the topics of the talks between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, but the new “skrypalia” in the end failed.
The situation around the Berlin of the murder and its coverage in the media, in fact you can find a lot of Parallels with the British “thing Skrypalia”. Again before in the street is a picture of the omnipotent Russian special services are willing to act ruthlessly revealing on the territory of other States.
The Kremlin rejected Western allegations and, as it may seem from the outside, refuse to cooperate in the investigation, bringing even more suspicion.
Yet, events in Salisbury and Berlin differ in their logic and consequences.Having received this summer, the opportunity to spin the flywheel sanctions and to ride a new wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the West German leadership did not rush things. Instead of loud claims in Germany have launched an inquiry procedure, which until recently, did not evoke much interest among the German and world media.
Instead of sensational language provocations came boring language German bureaucracy, scared journalists better than any restrictive measures.In many respects, therefore, the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Germany became a bolt from the blue. But even this indicative gesture is not much brought things to the script, “skrypalia”. Germany did not call upon allies in the EU and NATO to follow suit.
In Paris, for example, Berlin’s actions were assessed from the perspective of solidarity, but the number of the Russian diplomatic corps in France, was not injured.In turn, Russia has long refrained from retaliatory steps: mirror or asymmetrical. However, on 12 December it became known about the expulsion of two employees of the German Embassy in Moscow, both have to leave Russia within seven days.Unlike British politicians, the German establishment has not shown complete unity in the assessment of what happened in Berlin and the actions of the German government. Thus, the expulsion of Russian diplomats to the completion of the investigation criticized the Deputy Chairman of the faction of Free democratic party (FDP) in the Bundestag Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. He called the reduction of the diplomatic corps to a judicial decision opaque.
Traditionally sympathetic to Russia representatives of the party “the Left” called for the establishment of a lasting dialogue between Moscow and Berlin to investigate the murder.
Angela Merkel refused any judgments on the matter until the investigation is completed, he withdrew from the debate.
German politicians, attitudes to the Moscow critical, rather than calling for new sanctions or expulsions of diplomats, but demanded from the Russian side of the cooperation and constructive interaction on the murder investigation.
Reference to the prospect of a deepening crisis occur in them in a vague form and abstract rather serve as a warning than a real threat. All this bears little resemblance to the fighting spirit of the British Parliament in the days of the incident in Salisbury.
Signals from Germany suggest that Berlin does not intend at any cost to bring Russia to justice for the murder and build on this large-scale information campaign.The perfect opportunity for this was lost, probably deliberately, in the first days after the crime. A new appeal to bored with the story should be considered on a limited scale Russian-German relations. It is not only about the possible manoeuvres within the framework of cooperation of Berlin and Moscow in the “channel format”, but on other discussion topics, from issues of energy supplies to the peculiarities of the functioning of the sanctions regime and its bypass.
At the same time, in this situation, Berlin’s important to save face among allies in the West.Murder on the streets of the German capital, a former member of the Chechen campaigns fought on the side of terrorist groups, makes a logical appeal to Russia at least for consulting support. The premise of such a request in the packaging of traditional accusations against Moscow may seem shortsighted, but German diplomacy has to be firm, matching vnutrividovoi discipline and transatlantic solidarity.The response of Russia repeats Moscow’s position during the crisis in Salisbury. At first glance it is clear and consistent. If there is no evidence of involvement in the crime, there is no need to get involved in the debate and to run ahead of the principle of presumption of innocence.
We can only laugh at a new attempt of the West to blame Russia for their troubles.However, in the case of the murder khangoshvili this position is more for the benefit of those who see in the German and British incidents ubiquitous “hand of Moscow”. Formalized detachment of the Russian reaction to the scandal around the poisoning in Salisbury in 2018 was natural, but not perfect. She left the politicians and the press in the West, a wide space for unwinding of a new “Russian threat”, and conciseness of the Russian diplomats was more fuel to the fire and strengthened the suspicions.
In the case of Germany, this approach seems even less justified. German politicians endure the cold tone of Moscow and even considered it as a threat. However, the special nature of Russian-German relations involves confidential dialogue between the two countries, and expressed willingness to cooperate should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness or an admission of guilt for the crime.Artem Sokolov