Shall Russia pay for Germany's great plans?
Germany is looking for ways to fund its major geopolitical projects. Taking money from the German citizens is dangerous as it may not be appreciated. German authorities set their sights on Russia. The Germans will take money from Russia without even asking for permission.
Recently the Russian-German relations have not been the greatest. Of course, they are not at the level of the Russian-American or Russian-Polish relations. Germany did not declare Russia its enemy and the Germans do not intend to stop interaction with Russia. However partnership is one thing, and money and interests is another. When money is needed for great goals, there is nothing wrong with emptying partner's pockets.
There is no other explanation for the actions of the Germans. They are very persistent in their wants. In the fall of 2011 in Berlin the offices of "Gazprom" subsidiary, Gazprom Germany, were searched. A year later, the European Commission where the Germans have an important role began an antitrust investigation against the Russian giant. The most zealous European bureaucrats issued it a bill for 15 billion euros.
The Germans (though not completely) achieved their goals. Since 2011, the Russian company has been forced to cut prices for European consumers, primarily German. Russia's dependence on German buyers is significant enough and the latter can dictate their conditions. Germany also made it clear that it would not mind starting development of shale gas on the German territory. Well, pressure is pressure.
Now number one issue in Europe is the decision of the authorities of Cyprus to partially withdraw the funds of local offshore investors. The decision was not made by the Cypriots. This was the requirement of the creditors from the EU and the IMF who otherwise threatened to refuse Cyprus a loan. Who pressured the Cypriots the most? That's right, the Germans.
This year, parliamentary elections will be held in Germany. The results of voting in certain lands indicated that the current coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats have slim chances of winning. The need to help the Cyprus economy with German money will lower the bar of electoral support to a minimum. The Germans gracefully shifted the burden of salvation of Cyprus to others. This is understandable since they do not have spare money and are not willing to pay "freeloaders Greeks."
Only here Russia will be the one under attack. Approximately one-third of foreign funds in Cypriot banks are owned by Russian citizens and Russian companies. If the withdrawal takes place, they will lose more than others. Given that this way the Cypriots, urged by the Germans, want to collect nearly six billion euros, the Russians will lose nearly two billion. But the Germans will have a different use for this money. This is an elegant combination - the money is saved, and Russia was forced to pay.
Should the Germans pay Cypriots? At first glance, they do not have to, but this is only one side of the coin. The other is that Germany is considering the EU as a tool for expanding its influence. Influence costs money. Today the Germans are unconditionally number one in the EU, they want to dictate to others the rules of the game, and they want to make Germany a great power in every sense. However, they do not want to pay. Shifting the costs associated with political objectives to the Russian partner is a great solution.
Chancellor Angela Merkel represents the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Her goal is active foreign policy and turning Germany into number one country in Europe. German conservatives do not share Adolf Hitler's racial theories, but a soft "push to the east" is being implemented. They launched a series of projects that claim their country as a European leader. They are prepared to do a lot for the sake of their goal.
One of these projects is the entry of Croatia into the European Union. The decision was made in 2009-2011, when the global economic crisis was in full swing. Maybe Croatia is a very wealthy country? Not at all. The standard of living there is about the same as in Poland or the Baltic countries. Hundreds of thousands of Croats are earning money abroad, mainly in Germany. Unemployment is extremely high. There are no Economic benefits for the EU.
However, not everything is ruled by money. Croatia is a longtime ally of Germany and Austria. When Yugoslavia broke up, it was Germany who first recognized Croatian independence. Despite the resistance from France and other countries, the Germans push for Croatia's membership in the EU. The expansion of German influence in Europe and another loyal voice in the EU could come in handy for the Germans. For the sake of such expansion Germany is ready to get to the Russian offshore accounts in Cyprus.
The second project is independent Kosovo. It is not purely German, but the Germans have an interest in the matter. For German conservatives Serbia is the enemy, and should be weakened. Berlin is obviously aware that the modern Albanian Kosovo is drug dealers' territory subsidized by the European Union by 70 percent, in which the share of Germany is the largest. Funds are needed again, and the Russians have to fork out.
The third task is of internal nature. The German budget burden of payments to multiple immigrants is increasing as the time progresses. If payments stop, the Turks and other "new Germans" would revolt. If the burden is passed onto Germans they will not like it. This is a great way to postpone a solution of a long overdue problem.
Finally, let's consider the fourth reason. Many representatives of the German elite are not hiding their negative attitude towards Russia. Going after "Gazprom" and urging Cypriots to withdraw Russian money, Germany tends to weaken a competitor in the face of Russia, making it more agreeable. The Germans have leverage with Russia, but it is not always enough. The more leverage, the better. What could be better than a transformation of a dangerous rival into a willing partner?