GERMANY, RUSSIA, AND SYRIASeptember 30, 2015
Last week I talked in my News and Views from the Nefarium about the quiet meeting that took place in Berlin between Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeir, the German foreign minsiter, and Sergei Lavrov, their Russian counterpart. The subject of the meeting was, I suggested, a quiet geopolitical earthquake, for the German and French governments appeared to be breaking ranks with American policy in Syria. As I also pointed out, there were indications that America's "coalition partners" had supplied ISIS targeting data to America, which promptly did absolutely nothing - no air strikes, no drones, - nothing. The meeting appeared to "greenlight" the Russian military intervention on behalf of, and in response to a request from, Mr. Assad in Damascus. There is no other way to interpret the meeting, though as I also implied in my video, one can suspect that the discussions of the three foreign ministers of Europe's "Big Three" were not confined solely to Syria and their mutual unhappiness with American policy there.
Doubtless the Ukraine was on the list of discussion topics, and doubtless too, the sanctions that Washington insisted that Europe - read Paris and Berlin - had to adopt vis-a-vis Russia, to their own economic detriment.
Now there is some confirmation that, indeed, the topic of sanctions was on the agenda in Berlin, in this article from Russia's Sputnik, shared by Ms. K.M.:
What is intriguing here is the clear implication that the call for an end of German participation in Washington and London's sanctions regime appears not to be coming from Russia, but rather, from Germany itself:
German politicians have started to talk about the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions, as successful cooperation with Moscow in Syria cannot begin while they are in place. German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that it is impossible to simultaneously support sanctions and ask Russia for cooperation.
According to him, the rapprochement could start with the construction of a second branch of the Russian-German Nord-Stream pipeline and be completed after the abolition of the sanctions.
"The conflict over Ukraine cannot influence the attitude of Germany, Europe and the United States to Russia so much that Russia would stop being a partner in Syria," Gabriel stated, indirectly supporting the abolition of sanctions against Russia, regardless of the implementation of the Minsk Agreement.
Reading between the lines a bit produces our high octane speculation of the day: Note that the German Vice-Chancellor has stated what the principle behind the discussions in Berlin might have been based upon, namely, a decoupling of French and German policy vis-a-vis Syrian and the Russian intervention there, from the whole issue of the Ukraine, which in any case, both countries know - though will never admit in so many words - is largely a fiasco of America's unilateral creation. In other words, the Ukraine was also a subject of discussion in Berlin, as were the sanctions, and it appears that the Germans might have presented the Russians with a proposed timetable: first, the French and Germans greenlight the Russian military intervention in Syria; second, the Russians and Germans negotiate a second pipeline; third, Germany lifts the sanctions against Russia, probably in stages as the pipeline goes through. In other words, it would appear that Mr. Putin isn't the only one playing some high stakes, and very subtle, geopolitical chess. They're playing it in Berlin and Paris as well, and by greenlighting Russia in Syria, they are signaling that the Syrian issue will be the wedge used to drive widen the gap between Paris and Berlin on the one hand, and Washington on the other. That wedge will be used to lift the sanctions, call into question the wisdom of American policy over the last seven years, and to strengthen their hands when they demand that Washington cease its unipolar handling of the Ukraine. And first off the list of discussable topics will be the Crimean and Sevastopol. There's no way Moscow will allow the USA to strip it of its traditional Black Sea Fleet base, and Paris and Berlin know it. Its only in the delusional minds of the neocons in the State Department that it remains a reality. But they might as well maintain that Charleston should be handed back to the Confederacy.
"It aint going to happen," and Paris and Berlin know it, and over the long term, are playing for keeps.
See you on the flip side.