- Decision on SWIFT exclusion serves German and US interests
- New defense policy: repositioning with open questions
- China’s gas needs are Putin’s future
- Von der Leyen: We want Ukraine in the EU
- Power: Germany wants 100 percent renewables by 2035
- EU Commission wants to sanction Russian propaganda media
I hope you will still recognize the Federal Republic of Germany and Europe this morning. Politically, many things are different today; this weekend was a turning point, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz calls it. Everything is different, while the Russian army continues its attack on Ukraine with Belarusian support.
A look across Europe: The EU has approved €450 million in arms for Ukraine, and €50 million for other goods. Sweden, which tends to be neutral, has decided to supply weapons and armor to Ukraine. Finland is permitting the export of weapons through Estonia, and Germany is also clearing the way for exports – and is even supplying them itself.
As a result of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the German government, which has been in office for less than 100 days, has abandoned many positions that were previously considered unchangeable. This has also had an impact on Europe and the EU, with major changes now to be tackled with even greater speed. Reducing Europe’s and not the least Germany’s energy dependence is now a matter of acute geostrategic relevance.
In addition, Germany will be massively reinforcing its armed forces, and inventories at Europe’s manufacturers of all kinds of weapons systems are likely to empty rapidly when the German government announced €100 billion in special funds are to be spent in 2022 for this purpose. Germany is now pursuing a different, more active defense policy. Thomas Wiegold analyzes what this also means for European cooperation.
The weekend also brought a variety of European measures. Russian banks, which were included in the scope of restrictions late Friday night with the publication of the Official Journal of the EU, were hit with further sanctions on Sunday evening. The toughest sanction, for now, is likely to be the one against the Russian Central Bank. Eric Bonse explains why this is nevertheless not the “nuclear option”.
Many eyes are looking to China. Will Xi Jinping back would-be Russian savior Vladimir Putin? At any rate, Russia is not yet in a position to redirect European gas sales toward Beijing. But that is likely to change in the medium term, analyzes Frank Sieren.
Decision on SWIFT exclusion serves German and US interests
It was still controversial on Friday, announced on Saturday, and decided on Sunday: The EU is excluding key Russian banks from the SWIFT international banking data system, drastically limiting the Russian central bank’s ability to support the economy. “We are taking away the central bank’s ability to use its assets internationally,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.
The surprising decision, which according to British financial expert Adam Tooze is equivalent to a “full-scale financial war”, was preceded by feverish negotiations. At the EU summit on Thursday, Germany, Italy, Hungary and several other EU countries had still spoken out against including SWIFT in the sanctions package. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the agreed measures should be adhered to for the time being.
However, Germany came under pressure after Italy withdrew its concerns and the US, France, and Ukraine called for a further tightening of financial sanctions. The German government corrected its position and gave up its veto. The condition: That “the collateral damage” of a disconnection from SWIFT can be contained in such a way “that it hits the right people”. The energy sector and raw materials were to be spared.