OpEd

In the clutches of the Kremlin

Germany has been alarmed, after it became known that the Russians managed to intercept a conversation of senior German officers. But this is not the only scandal. Bankers, journalists and bought politicians - Russia has been deeply embedded in the German political-economic system for years.

Several books have already been written on Russia's successes in the last 25 years to buy German political and business elites. In the new issue, "Der Spiegel" magazine reveals that the banker Jan Marsalek, who is accused of one of the biggest financial scandals in Germany and who has been on the run for 4 years, was - a Russian spy! Dozens of journalists from "Der Spiegel", ZDF television, the Austrian newspaper "Standard" and the Russian investigative platform "The Insider" have found data proving that Viennese Jan Marsalek disguised himself as a pope of the Russian Orthodox Church to escape from the authorities. Germans who want him for arrest. He used the passport of a Russian populist named Konstantin Bayazov, whom Marsalek closely resembles. Where is Marsalek today? Probably in Russia.

Last November, it became known in the German media that the journalist Hubert Seipel, known for his interviews with Vladimir Putin, had received 600 euros from Russia to write a book. Seipel was a regular guest on German television shows. He explained Russia to the German public. He gave reports. He wrote books. When it became public that Seipel had received money from Russia, his German publishing house stopped selling his book on Putin's rule. But the damage was already done.

Another example: it has been known for years that former chancellor Gerhard Schröder is not only an employee of Russian gas companies, but also a propagandist in the service of Putin.

Although there is no direct evidence that he is being paid by Russia, the former correspondent of the public television ARD from Moscow, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, repeatedly makes excuses for Putin's policy. Her sympathetic books on Putin and Russia are among the best sellers, for years she has been a frequent guest on the central debate shows on German public television. Since Russia's aggression against Ukraine, her appearances on public television have become rarer, but not her influence. She continues to give lectures all over Germany. Retired General Harald Kujat has come out as a praiser of Russia's campaign in Syria and has accused NATO of not contributing to de-escalation after the Crimean crisis (actually Russia's occupation of Crimea). Kujat believes the conspiracy theory that Putin was ready to withdraw from the occupied territories in Ukraine, if Ukraine gives up NATO membership. This agreement, according to Kujat, has been hindered by the West.

As if all this were not enough, a scandal broke out over the weekend that could have serious consequences for Germany's security systems. Indeed, on Friday the editor-in-chief of the Russian propaganda television, RT, Margarita Simonyan, published a recording in which, according to her, senior German officers could be heard discussing the consequences for Russia of the use of German "Taurus" missiles (if Germany would give these missiles to Ukraine). It is a normal conversation between the generals, because it is their duty to think about different scenarios, although Chancellor Olaf Scholz's position is that he will not make the "Taurus" missiles available to Ukraine. The chancellor is afraid that with these weapons the Ukrainians can intentionally or unintentionally shoot deep into Russian territory.

This was not the only event that caused shock in Berlin last week. On February 26, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was forced to cut short a visit to the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv due to a Russian surveillance drone. After the alarm, the members of the German diplomat's delegation were ordered to get into the armored vehicles and leave.