Displaying items by tag: Germany
Attacks on Nord Stream gas pipelines, on Poland’s Druzhba pipeline (the most important oil pipeline from Russia to Western Europe), on submarine cables in France and the north Atlantic, and on the German railway show the need for increased protection of critical infrastructure. Loss of energy has extreme and immediate consequences for homes and industry. Three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, damaged by saltwater infiltration, are probably no longer usable. There have already been cyber-attacks on wind farms, and access to coal-fired power plants is being blocked by extremists. Most recently Russia damaged 1/3rd of Ukraine’s power plants. Germany has allowed a Chinese shipping company to enter the port of Hamburg, giving China access to sensitive European maritime traffic information.
On 29 September a fourth leak was found on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, amid sabotage allegations that the two underwater pipelines running from Russia to Germany had been damaged by explosions recorded in the Baltic Sea. Russia and the West have traded blame over the mysterious leaks. The sea surface is bubbling up as gas escapes. While the pipelines were not operational during the alleged sabotage, they still contained natural gas. The incident raises fears of an environmental disaster. According to experts, the leaking methane will be the biggest burst of the potent greenhouse gas on record. ‘Whoever ordered this should be prosecuted for war crimes and go to jail’, said a university climate scientist.
Russia's gas pipeline to Europe did not reopen, as promised, on 3 September. Gazprom said it could close indefinitely. This is no coincidence. Russia's state-controlled gas giant announced the indefinite halt to gas flows through Europe’s key energy artery hours after leading western finance ministers escalated sanctions on Russian oil. Gazprom's official reason is that an oil leak has been found and the pipeline cannot work without German imports of technology, which are now subject to sanctions. Many believe this is an attempt to blackmail Europe over supplies. This is a very serious development. Even during the height of the Cold War, Russia kept supplies of its gas flowing into Europe. However, this cut-off - and the pointed attempt by Gazprom to blame the German energy giant Siemens for the malfunction - is the culmination of decades of dysfunction in the energy relationship between the two countries.
Swathes of the Rhine riverbed are exposed, while a few commercial vessels slowly navigate the channel of water that is left in one of Europe's great working rivers. Industry relies on barges to fetch and carry raw materials and finished products to and from the power plants and factories that line the riverbank. Germany’s main industry lobby group has warned that factories may have to limit production or halt it completely because plunging water levels on the river are making it harder to transport cargo. The water is already too low to allow some of the larger vessels through. Others have reduced their cargo to lighten the load so that they sit higher in the water. Experts warn that the low water could significantly damage Germany's economy.
Russian natural gas supplies to Germany have been halted for annual maintenance work. But the German economy minister warned that EU countries must be prepared for gas shipments not resuming, believing Russia is using gas ‘as a weapon’ in response to EU sanctions. Supplies to five European countries have already been cut over their refusal to comply with new payment schemes. Stopping supplying Germany could tip the country into a major recession. Entire industries rely on gas, and most German homes use it for heating. The head of the International Energy Agency has warned that Russia may cut off gas supplies to Europe entirely and that Europe needs to prepare now.
German police have detained four people accused of plotting to create ‘civil war conditions’ and eventually overthrow democracy. United Patriots are part of Citizens of the Reich. They reject the German state as illegal. They intended attacking substations and power lines to destroy Germany’s energy infrastructure and cause long-lasting nationwide power failures. A number of high-profile people were also targeted as potential kidnap victims. One of the targets said, ‘There are forces that intended to destabilise the state and democracy. They are a small minority but are highly dangerous.’ The movement has an estimated 19,000 members who also spread racism and misinformation. (See) They were arrested on April 13 police also seized numerous guns including Kalashnikov, gold bars and cash in euros and foreign currency totalling £16,600. They went before a judge on April 14. A fifth suspect remains at large. Investigators have identified 12 people also connected to the group, which used the Telegram messaging app to communicate.
On 7 February President Macron travelled to Moscow and then to Kyiv, to meet the presidents of Russia and Ukraine and seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. At the same time, German chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Washington aiming to convince Joe Biden to trust him despite being wishy-washy on Russia. On 10 February Boris Johnson went to Brussels. In the week beginning 14 February, Scholz will meet Vladimir Putin himself. Despite Scholz’s doveish approach to Russia threatening European unity, France, Germany, and the US are still allies. Many believe the scenario of Macron keeping Scholz and Biden out of the loop on his talks with Putin and Zelensky is as unlikely as the German chancellor cutting a deal with Biden behind Macron’s back.
The head of the German navy, Kay-Achim Schönbach, made controversial comments while speaking at a think-tank. On a video later published on social media, he said Putin would not invade Ukraine and needed to be treated as an equal by the West. Also the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, ‘is gone and will never come back’. Ukraine described Mr Schönbach's comments as ‘categorically unacceptable’. He resigned from his role to ‘avert further damage’. Putin wants the West to stop Ukraine joining NATO, and NATO to abandon military exercises and stop sending weapons to eastern Europe, saying these are a direct threat to Russia's security. Several NATO members are sending military equipment or deploying forces to Ukraine. Germany refuses to send weapons, and Ukraine’s foreign minister said this stance encourages Putin to attack.
The flood disaster in the Ahr valley was three months ago. Much has been achieved but reconstruction will take a long time. Many houses had to be demolished and over thirty may not be rebuilt. Houses that could remain standing have been completely cleared and left empty to dry out. Large parts of the natural gas network were destroyed, and many oil heating systems in the affected houses no longer work. The government is working flat out to find solutions to the problems and to be prepared for the upcoming winter - including providing mobile gas supply systems and oil tanks, the use of mini-power plants and the purchase of a Tiny House for residents who need accommodation for the winter due to a lack of heating. The electrical power supply has not yet been completely restored and there is a lack of craftsmen and building materials for the renovation and reconstruction work. See
UEFA are investigating Union Berlin after shocking acts of anti-Semitism took place during a match with Israel’s Maccabi Haifa football team in a Nazi-built stadium. Before the game Maccabi players laid a wreath at Berlin’s Holocaust memorial. During the game a Jewish group of fans were subjected to anti-Semitic abuse and assaulted in the mixed area of the stands where fans from both teams sit together. They were threatened, pelted with beer, insulted, and one fan tried to set fire to an Israeli flag. UEFA said that an ‘Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector’ has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding discriminatory incidents. Police are also investigating the antisemitic abuse, which included other incidents around the stadium. Club president Dirk Zingler said, ‘This latest display of anti-Semitism, in a place so iconic for the Nazis, shows there is still work to be done to stamp it out in German society.’