Playing Field Levels for Germany and Russia
On August 8, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin commenced a month strutting his stuff on the world stage as he invaded the Transcaucasus nation of Georgia.
The world sat up and took notice.
“Russia is back,” shouted the headlines as pundits the world over reacted to the great bear’s new aggressive foreign policy. Journalists declared that Russia’s actions had brought it back from being a bit player, snubbed on the world scene by the United States, to a global player of significance once again.
One nation in particular sat up and took notice.
For some time the German nation has been seeking alternative energy sources, fearing that Russia held a significant ace in the hand in its European foreign policy, holding out the threat of withholding the flow of gas from the east, especially in winter. With Germany having suffered twice under that threat in the past, things became particularly dicey as the German-led EU plowed on with its Balkans policy, forcing the recognition of the Albanian-controlled Kosovo separate from Serbian jurisdiction, against Russia’s will.
Hence Putin’s reaction in seeking to impose his own will on the vital energy corridor that would give the European Union access to Caucasus energy resources through nato-friendly Georgia.
How suddenly things change on the world scene in this prophesied time of “no more delay”! (Revelation 10:6; Revised Standard Version).
Within just three months of Russia’s aggression against Georgia, the bottom has fallen out of Russia’s economy, drastically leveling the playing field between the EU—Germany in particular—and Russia.
Russia may be cash rich through the profits it has reaped via its oil and gas bonanza (Russia is spending $220 billion to shore up its financial services industry), but problems loom as the nation’s principal market dries up in the wake of the oil price crash. Fully two thirds of the total value has been stripped off the nation’s stock market. The volatility of the Russian market has triggered its intermittent closure over the past few weeks.
“[T]he crisis does mean problems for Russia. The country has far too many banks, and in particular far too many weak ones,” the Economist wrote earlier this month. “A bigger worry is that Russian companies need to refinance a total of $120 billion in corporate borrowings before the end of the year. … The likely upshot is that politically well-connected tycoons will be bailed out, while those less favored (and those who have borrowed rashly) will turn from oligarchs to nanogarchs overnight. Those who control the tap of state spending will decide who survives. It will be interesting how that plays out: collecting debts in Russia may start in court, but end in the morgue” (October 16).
The New York Times notes that “Russia’s stock market, already weakened after its conflict with Georgia, has been among the hardest hit in the world by the crisis. This has forced officials to repeatedly close stock exchanges, prop up the ruble and spend billions to promote liquidity. Oil, which helped Russia flex its political muscle, is now cutting into its income as the price plunges” (October 24).
Now, with Putin diverted from further aggressive foreign-policy moves as he concentrates on the impact of the global financial crisis on Russia’s economy, Germany is strengthening its commercial links with the EU’s eastern neighbor.
“Troubled finances can strain many a relationship,” the Times continued. “But the marriage of business interests between Russia and Germany is strengthening even as the global financial crisis deepens. Despite a rapid downturn in both economies, German companies are planning to ramp up long-term investments in Russia.”
What should not be forgotten in viewing this scenario is that German investment in Russia was a crucial component in the rebuilding of that nation’s economy following its implosion resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. That symbiosis between the German and Russian economies continues today, despite occasional political tensions between the two. “Russia’s vast natural resources and Germany’s engineering skills bring the countries together more often than they drive them apart. Today, the relationship is centered on Germany’s thirst for Russian oil and natural gas, as well as on Russia’s need for capital investment and German manufacturing acumen” (ibid.).
German bankers, financiers and corporate moguls have a history of seeking close links with the Russian economy.
“Nowhere was this growing business connection more apparent than at a top-level gathering last month at a castle overlooking the Elbe River. Many of the hundreds of guests oozed confidence that, despite the conflict in Georgia and the storm in world finance, Russia and Germany would deepen their centuries-old bonds—perhaps even realizing a dream long held by some of binding Russia closer to the West. ‘The long-term goal is about integrating the Russian economy with Europe,’ said Peter Danylow, director of the East and Central European Association, an independent business body that promotes contacts between Germans and Eastern countries” (ibid.).
That politics plays an important part in Germany’s association with Russia must be taken as a given. “If anything, German politicians and business executives have pursued closer ties with Russia. This bond was highlighted by the attendance of powerful players at the castle on the Elbe, where German managers from Moscow mingled with Russian officials, and East German veterans of Soviet enterprises chatted up younger Russian entrepreneurs” (ibid.).
The Trumpet has continually reinforced Herbert Armstrong’s prophetic claim that a future Russo-German pact—akin to the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact agreed between these two nations preparatory to Nazi aggression triggering World War ii—would be an essential component in Germany’s foreign policy as it pursues its imperialist foreign goals under the umbrella of the European Union. The conclusion of a trade pact between Russia and Germany, already mooted, will be but a precursor to a strengthening of political ties between the two, short lived though that arrangement may be, as Bible prophecies race toward their conclusion preparatory to the replacing of the whole doomed global system through godly intervention in the very near future.
In her New York Times piece, Judy Dempsey points out that, “In fact, Mrs. Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, have suggested that Germany codify its status as a crucial partner to help Russia modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Medvedev, in Berlin in June on his first presidential visit to a Western European capital, was enthusiastic. German business people are merely waiting for the lawyers to draft the agreement” (ibid.).
Events in Germany and Russia are moving quickly toward the fulfillment of Herbert Armstrong’s prophetic vision for both.
Read our booklet The Rising Beast—Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans for more on this highly topical subject.