Baerbock in Russia: In Search of the Right Tone

Status: 01/18/2022 07:25 a.m

Ukraine conflict, Nord Stream 2, NATO eastward expansion: Foreign Minister Baerbock is meeting with her Russian counterpart Lavrov today to defuse the dispute with Russia. It will be a test.

By Christina Nagel, ARD Studio Moscow

The visit of the German foreign minister to Kiev was not discussed in the Russian state media. But one can confidently assume that their statements were well taken note of in Moscow. Your no to the supply of defensive weapons. The absence of concrete threats of sanctions – also with a view to the Nord Stream II gas pipeline. Your clear commitment to further diplomatic efforts.

Christina Nagel
ARD Studio Moscow

“We are ready for a serious dialogue with Russia, because diplomacy is the only viable way to defuse the current highly dangerous situation,” said Baerbock.

Lavrov: “This is unacceptable for us”

Baerbock had announced that he wanted to listen. On this point, she is likely to take her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at his word. He will once again explain in detail why and why Russia is insisting on a written guarantee right now that there will be no further eastward expansion of NATO. And why Moscow has no choice but to keep putting pressure on. Because not only NATO but also Russia have red lines.

“We are being asked to order troops back to barracks on our territory, while at the same time Americans, Canadians and British are stationed almost permanently in the Baltic States, for example, and military bases are being set up in the Black Sea,” Lavrov criticized. “We can’t like that. That’s unacceptable for us.”

Just as little as price tags that the West has recently been sticking to unwanted demands. A small tip in the direction of the German foreign minister, who warned again in Kiev that “any further aggression would have a high price for the Russian regime.”

Baerbock: “There is no magic door”

In principle, Lavrov should welcome the fact that the German foreign minister wants to campaign for a new round of negotiations in the eastern Ukraine conflict. However, not without demanding that Berlin put more pressure on the Ukrainian leadership. Because they keep trying to undermine the Minsk agreements, which are supposed to lead to peace in the contested region. An accusation that Kiev also raises with a view to Moscow.

Baerbock knows that it takes staying power and strong nerves to make even one step forward in the negotiations. “It’s incredibly difficult, I would like to say that at this point,” said Baerbock. “There isn’t one magic door that you can open and then and then the crisis is solved.”

Serious allegations from both sides

This also applies to the German-Russian relationship itself, which is heavily strained. Both sides have recently expelled diplomats, further threats of sanctions are in the air. It’s about massive mutual accusations, ranging from state terrorism and human rights violations to restrictions on media freedom.

Hitting the right note in this mixed situation – a challenge. A first real test for Baerbock in her new role as Foreign Minister.

Delicate mission: Foreign Minister Baerbock on talks in Russia

Christina Nagel, ARD Moscow, 18.1.2022 6:33 a.m

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