Berlin park murder: Russian diplomats expelled

Germany has expelled two Russian embassy employees suspected of working for Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU. The German chief prosecutor suspects that Russian state agencies were involved in the murder of an ethnic Chechen Georgian national who was shot dead in broad daylight in a Berlin park last August. What will the fallout be?

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Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Berlin's Russia policy must be more realistic

The German government should take this act as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink its position vis-à-vis Russia, Der Tagesspiegel writes:

“It could start by finally calling a spade a spade. Over the past five years Putin's Russia has been behind operations for influencing elections in Western democracies, hacker attacks, including on the Bundestag and government, massive disinformation campaigns on the Internet and the wars in Ukraine and Syria. But those who follow the German debate on the policy towards Russia will find little of this. Instead, every few weeks there is talk in Berlin of reducing the sanctions imposed because of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

A clear stance against the criminal regime 2.0

Jyllands-Posten goes a step further and demands tougher countermeasures:

“For realistic observers - of whom there are some in Germany, but most of whom are in the US, Britain, Poland and the Baltic States - the murder is simply a confirmation that Russia is not afraid to take the lives of its opponents. ... The reactions in Moscow are always the same. The regime is insulted and feigns complete innocence. But of course it's not innocent, and that's why unfortunately it's necessary for the West to abandon the peace dividend and re-arm. The Kremlin is still a criminal regime - now in the 2.0 version, but still scary.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Foolish to believe Putin means well

This is no time for a rapprochement with Moscow, Dagens Nyheter believes:

“Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 resulted in sanctions that are still in place. The bombings in Syria revealed the ruthless nature of the Russian regime. But France's President Emmanuel Macron believes it's time for a thaw in relations with the Russians and that they should no longer be regarded as enemies. On Monday he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Putin in France to discuss the war in Ukraine. So far the Russian president has refused to withdraw his troops or cede in any other way. The murder in Berlin serves as a reminder that no one can still believe his intentions are good.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A shaky relationship

Berlin and Moscow are moving further away from each other, observes Rzeczpospolita:

“This goes above all for Germany, which despite its consistent refusal to lift anti-Russian sanctions always wanted to 'talk' to Russia. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a strong connection between the two countries, for which Germany has been harshly criticised by the US. But in November, Berlin rejected the Russian proposal to introduce a moratorium on medium-range missiles in Europe (if Washington withdrew from the INF treaty). And now the next confrontation is waiting for Berlin and Moscow on 9 December, when the war in Ukraine is to be discussed at the 'Normandy Format' summit.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Clumsy spies jeopardise relations with Berlin

Russians should be ashamed of the lack of professionalism displayed by their agents in Berlin and Salisbury, writes Anton Orech in Echo of Moscow:

“I have no sympathy for Skripal and none whatsoever for [Berlin victim] Khangoshvili. But the cowboy tactics of our super agents isn't at all to my liking either. Of course these people can't do their jobs with kid gloves on. But if they're such cool killers, they shouldn't mess things up and get themselves caught. It's enough to make you ashamed to be Russian! ... All intelligence agencies do more or less the same thing. But our spies are the only ones who get caught, and then there's always a big scandal. The last thing we needed right now was to fall out with the Germans.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

A test of Germany's resiliance

Just expelling two diplomats isn't enough, Deutschlandfunk argues:

“Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Maas must find clear words and impose even clearer sanctions on Russia. After the 'Skripal case' - the attack on a Russian ex-spy in the UK - 15 European states expelled dozens of Russian diplomats. That was the least they could do. ... The murder in Berlin's Tiergarten Park must be viewed in a larger context: as a piece in the puzzle of Russia's hybrid, multi-layered war against the West. The government must now show that it has grasped that fact. Because this case is also a test for just how resilient Germany is.”