By Elisabeth Hellenbroich On May 9th victory celebrations will take place in Moscow in order to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism in Europe. Dozens of world leaders will attend the military parade including above all leaders from Asia, BRICS, the Mideast and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, while the US government as well as most EU governments have decided to boycott the event. So far only Greek minister president Alexis Tsipras has announced his attendance, while Czech Minister president Miklas Zeman, in reaction to the immense pressure which was exerted upon him by US Ambassador Andrew Shapiro, withdrew his participation in the last minute. German Chancellor Merkel has announced to visit Moscow on May 10th in order to lay a wreath together with President Putin at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The reason given by many western states for the boycott is that Russia has broken international law by annexing the Crimean Peninsula , and that hence Russia must be taught a lesson. The 9th of May celebrations are an important symbolic event for Russia, since it is this country that had to deplore by far the greatest number of victims during World War II in which 27 Million Russians lost their life. These signals sent out by the US and EU in respect to Russia indicate that the political temperature is rising again in Europe. This goes in line with a new round of propaganda hype in the Western press around Ukraine. The new line which is being peddled is that Russian supported rebels have recently several times violated the Minsk II agreement. Coinciding with the arrival of several hundred US military instructors in Ukraine and the systematic military buildup carried out by some Eastern European states against Russia, it seems that everything is being set in order to trigger a new round of armed fighting in Ukraine. Indicative for the change in temperature was the meeting that took place April 13th in Berlin between the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in the villa Borsig, in order to discuss further aspects of Minsk II.  Beyond the agreement on a cease fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the four foreign ministers, as the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated, agreed on the need to quickly establish four working groups “to address security issues; discuss the process for holding a local election in rebel- occupied areas; to restart the exchange of prisoners of war; and improve the dire situation in Eastern Ukraine.”  “Everyone knows that we have a long path ahead of us”, Steinmeier said, “but we are going to do everything we can to continue this process.” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was more critical, underlining the need to “fulfill the Minsk agreements in their entirety, not just in the military segment, but also in political, economic and humanitarian spheres.”   Germany’s most prestigious dialogue forum- the “Petersburg dialogue” demoted   Indicative for the rise in political tensions is a recent interview which was published by the German newspaper “Südwestpresse”. The interview was conducted with the former and last Minister President of East Germany (DDR) Lothar de Maizière. During the last 10 years he acted as chairman of the very prestigious Russian/ German Petersburg Dialogue, which (having been established by President Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder) during the last 10 years has served as platform to bring together representatives from the civilian sector of society, as well as from the economic, cultural, scientific and political sector of society. As de Maizière reported in the interview, on April 17th he will be replaced as chairman of the Petersburg dialogue. The successor chosen will be Hans Pofalla, former Secretary of the Chancellor’s Office, who as de Maizière put it, is not really known as somebody who knows Russia well.  Lothar de Maizière pointed out that there had been a systematic campaign run against him. The reasons for the replacement of de Maizière were political. As he stated in the interview he had expressed strong disagreement with the Russia policy of the West, including criticism against sanctions which would only “isolate Russia”, as well as his defense for a “federalist” solution for the Ukraine and his defense of Russia as a great country with a great people. This great country Russia, he stated in the interview, with poets, such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, its composers Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and its painters like Kandinsky, belongs the same European spiritual and cultural space. Chancellor Merkel in her call for a “reform” of the Petersburg dialogue had thus indirectly given her blessing for the replacement of de Maizière.   The fight around energy   There are other signals which indicate a change in political temperature. What is happening almost unnoticed on the background of the above mentioned events is the systematic targeting of some EU States such as Greece, Hungary and Serbia, but also Macedonia and Turkey. Some of them are looking for a stronger energy link with Russia.   According to the German language Russian website, on April 9th a meeting took place in Budapest (Hungary) where the foreign ministers from Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Serbia signed a declaration of intent, in order to support the Russian Pipeline Project “Turkish Stream”. This project had been discussed between the representatives from the Turkish government and Russian Energy Company Gazprom as an alternative to the project “South Stream” which Russia had cancelled end of last year. In their declaration of intent the foreign ministers declared that the he pipeline project “Turkish Stream” is a “commercially realizable option” which leads to diversification and can supply Central and South Eastern Europe states with gas. In the declaration they also demanded that the EU Fund gives financial support for constructing the Turkish Stream project related infrastructure. So far one third of the Russian gas supply to Europe goes via Ukraine. This new pipeline would be seen as an alternative, going through the Black Sea to Turkey and Greece.   The fight around the question of the Turkish Stream pipeline sheds light on the fact that behind the present geostrategic Russia/ Ukraine conflict a lot more economic interests are involved. This involves the fight of US agro industrial firms like Cargill et al. which are in the process of grabbing Ukraine’s Black Soil, as well as US attempts to secure a significant share in the future European energy market, i.e. get Europe away from its “dependency” on the Russian gas market away and make it in turn more dependent on the US energy market.      ]]>


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