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The Limits of Germany’s Special Relationship with Russia

We shouldn’t overestimate or take too seriously the frequent references made by German officials to Russia’s public interests, argues Dr. Andreas Umland in an interesting comment piece on rising hostility to Germany in the Ukraine. Berlin’s famous “special relationship” with Moscow is “long gone” and in real terms, all Germany is doing is playing the role of “good cop” within Western policies on Russia. Umland goes on to propose that there is a serious informational gap in the Ukraine as to why the country should be a part of NATO, and what the organization is about – and that the onus is on NATO itself to overcome this (although Umland doesn’t mention that not even NATO itself knows what its purpose is any more). But wait – there’s also a delicious media conspiracy at work in the Ukraine, involving German-backed Kremlin apologists which add fuel to the fire:

In this particular regard, Germany, namely the influential Hamburg magazine DER SPIEGEL, does play a rather dubious role: DER SPIEGEL lends its name and reputation to one of Moscow´s major publication projects in Ukraine – the infamous weekly “Der Spiegel – Profil”. This coloured high-circulation journal is edited by Mikhail Leontev, a well-known Russian anti-Western propagandist, former “persona non grata” in Ukraine, founding member of neo-fascist Alexander Dugin´s “Eurasia” Movement, etc. (see, on this issue, my German-language open letter to DER SPIEGEL).

One could argue though that, reminding the ambivalent repercussions of transmissions in Ukraine of the dubious television reports from Kyiv by Russian TV “journalists,” the primitiveness of “Der Spiegel – Profil´s” anti-Ukrainianism has the unintended effect of supporting pro-NATO forces in Ukraine (see, for instance, No. 10 on the “extremely strong tradition of treason” in Ukrainian politics, Vinnichenko and Hrushevsky as “political pygmies” etc.). And, DER SPIEGEL, it appears, is assisting in this. Yet, this would be a strange way, indeed, for German journalists to contribute to further improvement of relations between Ukraine and the West.