• English posts

    The Russian connection to a Berlin hit job that Germany doesn’t want to talk about

    Berlin, Germany (CNN)Murders happen in Berlin. They’re not common — the crime rate in Germany is currently at its lowest level in more than 25 years — but as with all major cities, the occasional violent killing is all but inevitable. What’s far less common is for them to occur at noon, in the city center. And what’s truly unprecedented is when the target is a former Chechen fighter, and the suspect an alleged Russian government hitman. But that’s exactly what happened on August 23. Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen descent, was on his way to midday prayers at a mosque in the Moabit district of downtown Berlin. A man following him on…

  • English posts

    Pressure builds over environmental impact of Nord Stream 2

    Environmental activists in Russia have claimed that the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have violated Russian laws on environmental protection by harming natural reserves inside the country, the Russian press has reported. According to the Russian office of international climate watchdog Greenpeace, the destruction of certain endangered species in the Kurgalsky nature reserve in Russia’s northwest are “massive and continuing.” The organisation’s claims are based on the on-site scientific examinations of Russia’s Komarov Botanical Institute, which said that a significant number of unique plants, which were promised to be transplanted by the gas pipeline’s project company, have been destroyed. Continue reading the news article on the Emerging Europe…

  • German posts

    Nord Stream 2: Großprojekt der Privatwirtschaft oder Instrument russischer Geopolitik?

    Bei Nord Stream 2 fallen wirtschaftliche und geopolitische Interessen Russlands untrennbar voneinander zusammen. Der Bau der Pipeline muss als Versuch Moskaus gewertet werden, sich in der aktuell angespannten politischen Lage vor allem gegenüber der Ukraine aber auch der EU alle Handlungsoptionen offen zu halten, um diese zukünftig zur Durchsetzung eigener strategischer Ziele nutzen zu können. ‚Deutschland ist ein Gefangener Russlands‘. Mit dieser provokanten Aussage erregte US Präsident Donald Trump am Rande des NATO-Gipfels im Jahr 2018 in Brüssel große mediale Aufmerksamkeit. Und US-Vizepräsident Mike Pence fand auf der Münchener Sicherheitskonferenz in diesem Jahr noch deutlichere Worte: „Wir können die Verteidigung des Westens nicht garantieren, wenn unsere Bündnispartner sich vom Osten abhängig…

  • English posts

    RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT HELPED BERLIN ASSASSIN TRAVEL ACROSS EUROPE TO KILL TARGET

    The mysterious assassin who killed a former militant in Berlin last month was likely assisted by officials within the Russian dgovernment, who facilitated his travel across Europe and wiped his faked records from official databases after the killing, new research indicates. According to evidence uncovered by the Bellingcat investigative journalism organization, the killer could not have carried out the assassination of Georgian Zelimkhan Khangoshvili on August 23 without help from Russian officials. Khangoshvili fought against Russian forces in Chechnya. There are conflicting reports regarding the identity of the gunman, who has reportedly refused to speak with German law enforcement since his arrest, though he has met with Russia diplomats. Continue reading the news article…

  • English posts

    New Evidence Links Russian State to Berlin Assassination

    Contrary to the findings of the unnamed Western agency, Bellingcat and its investigative partners Der Spiegel, The Insider and The Dossier Center have concluded that the suspect held by German police is unlikely to be Vladimir Stepanov. This conclusion is based on a weeks-long investigation that analyzed – and ultimately rejected – the hypothesis that the killer and the former police major serving a 24-year sentence are the same person. The same finding was reached independently by the Petersburg-based outlet Fontanka, who claim in September 26 report that Vladimir Stepanov remains in a Russian prison. In the process of this investigation, Bellingcat and its partners have obtained conclusive evidence that the suspect –…

  • English posts

    An apparent assassination in Germany has all the hallmarks of the Kremlin — and Russia doesn’t seem to care

    The daylight killing of a Chechen militant in Berlin looks increasingly like the work of Russia, though the Kremlin denies it. Investigators recently published evidence they say proves the suspect had a fake ID which only the Russian state could provide. A longtime Israeli intelligence operative, speaking anonymously, told Insider that the cover provided would not withstand much scrutiny — a common feature in Russia-linked killings. Extensive databases and new technology, the source said, mean that techniques once used to falsify identities no longer work. For Russia to continue such work, knowing the likelihood of getting caught, is tantamount to saying that it does not care. Continue reading the published…

  • English posts

    EU’s top court curtails Gazprom access to Nord Stream pipeline link

    WARSAW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s top court on Tuesday overruled an EU decision allowing Russia’s Gazprom to ship more gas via the Opal gas pipeline, which links its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany. The ruling is politically charged as Poland and other eastern European nations fight Gazprom’s plans to double the capacity of Nord Stream and bypass legacy gas routes via Poland and Ukraine. Germany, the main beneficiary of the expanded pipeline known as Nord Stream 2, redoubled its defense of the project on Tuesday, while Poland said it threatened gas supplies to central and eastern Europe. Continue reading the article published on the Reuters news website.

  • English posts

    Brussels unlikely to appeal EU court decision hampering Nord Stream pipelines

    The European Commission is unlikely to appeal a decision of the EU General Court on Tuesday (10 September) to restrict the transit of Russian gas via the Opal pipeline, running on German territory. This decision appears to hampers the Gazprom-backed Nord Stream 2 offshore pipeline project, which is nearing completion, as well as the first leg of the project which is operational since 2011. Continue reading the article published on the Euroactiv news website.

  • English posts

    A killing in Berlin raises uncomfortable questions about Germany’s relationship with Vladimir Putin

    Boris Reitschuster is a Berlin-based journalist and specialist on Russia. On Aug. 23, an assailant gunned down a Chechen dissident during broad daylight at a park in the center of Berlin, just a short walk from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now, a week later, Germans are still agonizing over the shooting’s likely effect on their country’s relationship with Russia. The victim, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was a 40-year-old ethnic Chechen from Georgia. Starting around 2001, he fought on the rebel side — against Russian troops — during the Second Chechen War. The Kremlin, correspondingly, considered him a terrorist. For his supporters, he was a fighter for the independence of Chechnya. Continue reading…

  • English posts

    MURDER IN BERLIN

    Germany’s Approach to Russia Comes at a Cost Salisbury” is now shorthand for a Russian murder attempt. What will “Berlin” stand for? Unlike in the cases of the ex-spy Sergei Skripal and the defector Alexander Litvinenko, the hitman who murdered Zelimkhan Khangoshvili on August 23rd did not use a weapon of mass destruction. No polonium (which killed Litvinenko in London in 2007) or nerve agent (which was meant to kill Mr. Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018). ​Instead, he used a gun, firing three shots that killed the fugitive Georgian citizen (and ethnic Chechen) instantly. Continue reading the article published on the CEPA website.

  • English posts

    Why Germany Is Ignoring Its Own Russian Spy Scandal

    The murder of a Chechen rebel in Berlin looks like a Russian operation, but the Merkel government is not making a public fuss about that. Last March, after the attempt to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, U.K., it took the British government only a week to accuse Russia of being responsible; by the 10th day after the crime, it was already expelling Russian diplomats. Now, the same length of time after a very similar event in Berlin, the German government is reacting very differently. The victim of the Aug. 23 attack, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili (or Changoschwili, as it’s spelled in German), was an ethnic Chechen from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region who had…

  • English posts

    Nord Stream 2: Energy Security For Europe Or Prelude To Russian Aggression In The Baltic?

    Nord Stream 2 (NS2) has been subject to a vigorous debate and much disagreement on whether it provides an opportunity for diversification of gas supply to the European union or facilitates Russian dominance. But some go even further, suggesting that NS2 could become excuse for Russian expanded military presence or even military aggression in the Baltic Sea. The Project in a Nutshell  The Nord Stream 2 (NS2) project consists of two pipelines running across the bottom of the Baltic Sea carrying Russian natural gas to Germany. Once completed the two pipelines would offer 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) in annual capacity.  As such, NS2 is an attempt at duplicating the success of Nord…

  • English posts

    Senator Cruz Says U.S. Has Ability To Halt Nord Stream 2

    U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has said that the United States still has the ability to halt construction of a planned pipeline to send Russian natural gas to Germany, even as the project nears completion. Russia has said it expects to complete the 1,220-kilometer-long Nord Stream 2 project running under the Baltic Sea by the end of the year. Continue reading the article on the Radio Free Europe news website.

  • German posts

    Breiter Konsens gegen Nord Stream 2

    Der demokratische US-Senator Chris Murphy erklärt, warum sein Land Sanktionen gegen Nord Stream 2 plant – und warum ihn die Debatte in Berlin überrascht. In den USA gibt es nicht mehr viele politische Themen, bei denen sich Republikaner und Demokraten einig sind. Doch kurz vor der Sommerpause billigte der Auswärtige Ausschuss des US-Senats bei nur zwei Gegenstimmen einen Gesetzentwurf, der „Europas Energiesicherheit schützen“ soll. Dieser sieht Sanktionen gegen Firmen vor, die am Bau der Pipeline Nord Stream 2 beteiligt sind. In der Ablehnung des Projekts gebe es in den USA einen „breiten überparteilichen Konsens“, sagte der demokratische Senator von Connecticut, Chris Murphy, am Dienstag in Berlin. „Viele Republikaner und Demokranten wünschen sich,…

  • English posts

    U.S. Efforts To Derail Russian Pipelines To Europe Have Failed Since The 1960s. Will Nord Stream 2 Be Any Different?

    U.S. President Donald Trump will fly to Europe later this month to pursue a goal his predecessors going back to John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan failed to achieve — derailing a Kremlin-backed energy-export pipeline. The Trump administration and the U.S. Congress are fighting to block the 9.5 billion-euro ($10.6 billion) Nord Stream 2 project amid fears it will make NATO allies and other European countries more reliant on Russian energy and damage Ukraine by depriving it of transit fees. Continue reading the article on the Radio Free Europe news website.

  • English posts

    To Deal with Bad Ideas, Develop Better Solutions

    The Russo-German Nord Stream gas pipeline projects—Nord Stream I, completed in 2011, and Nord Stream II scheduled to be completed around the end of 2019—are bad projects because they increase European dependence on Russian gas in general, and especially because they give the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin the option of delivering gas to Germany while bypassing other European countries. Putin’s Russia has a track record of using gas exports as political pressure, for example, against Ukraine in the years leading up to Putin’s attack on that country in 2014 and has threatened to do the same to Central European countries, including those in the European Union. Given this, and their long…

  • English posts

    Nord Stream 2: high stakes for underwater pipeline lawsuit

    That the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, which is backed by both the Russian and German governments, is now suing the European Union over what it describes as “discriminatory” rules speaks to the serious issues underlying the project and the risks it poses to European energy independence and security. To its proponents in both Moscow and Berlin, the Nord Stream 2 project is a straightforward way to meet the pressing energy needs of Europe’s largest economy. To Nord Stream 2’s many opponents across the rest of Europe, however, the political and economic leverage Vladimir Putin will gain over the European Union far exceeds the proceeds he can expect from shipping gas via the…

  • English posts

    The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline And The Dangers Of Moving Too Rashly Toward Renewable Energy

    Few Americans likely noticed last week that Denmark refused to grant a permit for finishing construction of the Russian natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, but its international significance is enormous.  Denmark’s refusal is the latest chapter in a story of how good intentions in fighting climate change go bad.  It is a cautionary tale of how a country – in this case, Germany – while seeking to make itself and its energy use cleaner, more efficient and more self-sufficient, can produce the opposite of all three.  As climate change becomes more of an issue in America heading into the 2020 election season, Nord Stream 2 provides a case study of the…

  • English posts

    Senate panel backs Nord Stream 2 pipeline sanctions bill

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate committee passed a bill on Wednesday to slap sanctions on companies and individuals involved in building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that the Trump administration says would strengthen Moscow’s economic grip on Europe. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act,” by a vote of 20 to 2. The bill, which reflects some lawmakers’ concerns over Russian influence in Europe, would still need to pass the full Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump into law. Continue reading the article published on the Reuters news website.

  • English posts

    Enact US sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

    Contrary to some claims, a bipartisan bill proposing targeted sanctions for those involved in the construction of a Russian gas pipeline will not hit major EU energy companies. Additionally, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is not an easily deployable alternative to sanctions. All arguments deployed against Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) sanctions bill overlook the scale of European support for action against Nord Stream 2. It is true that the German government, and certainly the Social Democratic Party, is opposed to sanctions. But they do not speak for all 28 member states of the European Union. The European Parliament already voted in December 433 to 105 in favor of canceling Nord…