Monday

19th Aug 2019

Germany to snub Putin's WWII parade

  • 9 May flags last year: the Chinese president and the leader of North Korea will attend this year's event (Photo: Sue Kellerman)

German chancellor Angela Merkel is to boycott a WWII memorial parade in Moscow on 9 May due to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, confirmed the decision on Wednesday (11 March), following a report in German weekly Die Zeit.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"In view of the Russian actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, participation would seem inappropriate to us”, he said.

He added that she will instead lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Russian capital, together with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, on 10 May.

"The chancellor considers it important to mark the joint remembrance of the end of the Second World War and the liberation from Nazism,” Seibert noted.

"The obligation to keep alive this memory and to commemorate the dead exists irrespective of our current differences with Russia and of our clear criticism of Russia's attitude towards and actions in Ukraine.”

The French leader, Francois Hollande, also won’t be going. But his office cited agenda issues, saying he’s needed at a meeting on climate change in the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Other EU states to boycott the 9 May event include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. US president Barack Obama has also said he won’t be going.

The Czech president, a Putin sympathiser, is the only EU head of state to have confirmed attendance so far.

Greece, Hungary, and Slovakia have been invited. They haven’t made public their decisions. But the fact the German leader said No, despite Germany’s historic burden of guilt, makes it easier for others to say No as well.

“It’s an absolutely correct decision”, a diplomat from one Baltic EU country told EUobserver.

“Especially if you consider that some of the soldiers in the 9 May military parade in Moscow are likely to have taken part in Russia’s campaign in Crimea and in east Ukraine.”

The German and US snubs highlight to what extent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has poisoned relations.

Merkel went to the 9 May parade in 2010, when British and US troops also walked alongside Russian soldiers. In 2005, the then US president, George W. Bush, sat next to Putin at the solemnities.

US lists Dugin

For its part, the US on Wednesday extended its Russia blacklist by 14 names, naming Russian nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, Russian agents in occupied Ukraine, and a handful of former Ukrainian regime members.

It also listed two entities: Russian National Commercial Bank and The Eurasian Youth Union, a pseudo-NGO which, the US says, recruits fighters for the Ukraine offensive.

The Department of Treasury said Russia has violated the “Minsk” ceasefire accord by its recent assaults on the Ukrainian cities of Debaltseve and Mariupol.

“If Russia continues to support destabilising activity in Ukraine … the already substantial costs it faces will continue to rise”, Adam J. Szubin, a senior US treasury official, said.

EU ambassadors also on Wednesday, in Brussels, agreed to extend the EU list for another six months. It names 150 people and 37 entities. It previously covered 151 people, but one of them died.

EU leaders at a summit next week will discuss what to do about economic sanctions, which expire in July.

An EU diplomatic source said the likely outcome is to extend the measures for six months, but not to add fresh ones.

He said the European Commission and the EU foreign service have finalised proposals for a new round of economic sanctions. But these are unlikely to be imposed unless there is significant escalation, such as a Russian attempt to take Mariupol.

Bulgaria tries to warm up Russia ties

Bulgaria is trying to warm up relations with Russia, amid iciness over its support for EU sanctions and its cancellation of major Russian energy projects.

Opinion

Germans and Americans differ over Russia

Disagreement over how tough to be with Russia potentially foreshadows new stress in the US-German relationship and, by extension, transatlantic solidarity over what to do about Ukraine.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Analysis

Pentagon: ISIS is resurgent in Syria

The US department of defence warns that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is working on a come back in Syria. It is regrouping and supporting activities. This might trigger a new refugee displacement to Europe.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us