"The largest companies that pay high taxes in Germany now are in great danger for working with Russians," political scientist Alexander Rahr told the newspaper. He talked about the attempts of the leadership of the Federal Republic of Germany to withdraw its business from the threat of US sanctions - and whether Merkel will manage to reach an agreement with Trump.
Chancellor and Minister of Finance Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz decided to call on the US to free German companies from new anti-Russian sanctions. As reported by the German press on Thursday, with the submission of industrial concerns, they will discuss this issue during their visits to the United States. Merkel is expected in Washington in a week - 27 April. Scholtz must go later.
The punitive measures introduced against Russia, in particular, threaten the business of Siemens, Daimler and Volkswagen. US sanctions can cost the German industry hundreds of millions of euros. By the way, despite the political quarrel between the two countries, the trade turnover between Germany and Russia, on the contrary, increased by 54,5 billion euros last year (by 11 billion more than in 2016).
Recall, in early April, the US Treasury banned any deals with dozens of major companies in Russia and with leading Russian businessmen. In general, sanctions are imposed against 38 Russian business people, officials and companies.
The scientific director of the German-Russian forum Alexander Rahr told the newspaper VZGLYAD about how great the chances of Berlin bring his business out from under attack.
LOOK: Alexander Glebovich, the Chancellor and the head of the Ministry of Finance are going to argue with Washington. And what about the new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas? After all, this is his sphere. Recently Meuse gave an interview "Spiegel," in which he repeated the American theses against Russia word for word. Does this mean that their positions with Merkel are different?
Alexander Rahr: This can not be. Maas has no influence of its own. The main decision on these issues is taken by Angela Merkel. And Scholz is also considered a critic of Russian politics in Ukraine and Syria. After the departure of Gabriel in the government in general, there are almost no adherents of a more open, friendly course towards Russia.
So it's not about sympathy for Russia. Throughout the past decades, the Federal Republic of Germany believed that it is possible to build diplomacy only through economic cooperation, through trade. This is the principle of the "new German Eastern policy" (neue Ostpolitik), and now America is doing it a crushing blow. The largest companies that pay high taxes in Germany are now in great danger for working with Russians. Here the whole government, proceeding from its own national interests, will prevent it.
That's why Merkel goes to Washington and will beg in no case to follow the principle of extraterritorial sanctions. Against Russia? You are welcome. But not against our companies, which have been working for several decades on the Russian market. The principle of the extraterritoriality of the sanctions for Germany is unacceptable.
The events are dramatically developing towards America's full-scale economic war against Russia.
As long as Germany looks like an intermediary, it will offer compromises until the last, so that in no case will the US sanctions kick on it.
VIEW: What are the chances for the success of the mission of Merkel and Scholz?
A.R .: I think that you can agree. Trump does not want to fight with Russia. The American government, according to my information, will meet the Germans. Agree that these sanctions will not apply to German companies. American legislation allows the Ministry of Finance to make exceptions. True, this confuses the situation, but it leaves loopholes.
The problem is in the Congress, law enforcement agencies, various lobbies, which are very tough against Russia. The Germans understand this well and know how to oppose them.
Another problem is that Germany is not supported by Germany in this issue in the European Union. For example, Poland welcomes US sanctions, even if they interfere with the Polish companies themselves, cooperating with Russia.
LOOK: To what extent does large business now affect the Chancellor's foreign policy?
A.R .: Previously, could influence. He spoke out against sanctions even after the conflict began around Ukraine, but Angela Merkel then put business people in their place, saying that now the priority of politics is in effect, and the business was actually silent. At the same time, the German government understands its responsibility for the same business that Berlin has always pushed itself towards investing in Russia. Therefore, the government now feels all its responsibility to protect its companies and will try to defend the interests of business.
And while Merkel did not solve this issue in Washington, even a small medium-sized company feels insecure. She does not know if she will be punished if she supplies spare parts to Russian companies mentioned on the US sanctions list.
LOOK: And if in Washington, nevertheless Merkel and Scholz will say no?
A.R .: It will be possible to speak of a sharp deterioration in the economic relations between Germany and America. There are already many questions between them. Trump and the industrial lobby want to complicate the import of German cars in the US. When the trade war broke out two months ago, it was the Economy Minister Peter Altmeyer who was able to convince the Trump administration not to introduce new tariffs against European firms. America agreed and raised tariffs against China and other countries, but not against the EU.
However, the sword of Damocles continues to hang. Trump can change his mind at any time, press another button - and all punitive laws will turn against Europe.