Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Germany and US pledge to 'confront' Russia

  • Von der Leyen: "Our way of life is under attack … We can’t accept this" (Photo: securityconference.de)

Germany’s defence minister has described Russia as a threat to Europe’s “way of life”, while also lecturing US president Donald Trump on values.

Ursula von der Leyen said at the opening of the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Friday (17 February) that “the aggressive nature of the overall picture” had become clear after Russia invaded Ukraine and rolled out its anti-Western propaganda campaign.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Mattis said US would “confront those” who attacked “innocent people or our democratic processes” (Photo: securityconference.de)

“We see projection of military power, combined with subversive methods. We see zones of influence being redefined at the expense of international law and order,” she said.

“We see bots and trolls and fake news and we see how these are undermining the credibility of our democratic institutions”, she added.

“Our open societies are under attack, our freedoms, our way of life is under attack … We can’t accept this,” she said.

Von der Leyen said Germany was creating a new cyber-defence HQ in April amid concerns that Russia would try to hack its upcoming elections.

She also noted that German soldiers were now in Lithuania as part of a Nato force to deter Russian aggression.

The minister said that Germany would heed US calls for European members of Nato to spend more on defence and to play a larger role in combat operations.

But she added that transatlantic cooperation must be based on “shared values” after Trump indicated that he approved of torture and tried to ban Muslim immigrants on security grounds.

“Nato is a community of shared values bound by human dignity … this leaves no room for torture,” she said.

“We must beware of turning this [counter-terrorism] into a fight against Islam and Muslims per se, otherwise we risk deepening the trenches from which violence and terrorism grow,” she said.

She spoke out against Trump’s hints of a grand bargain with Russia.

“There can be no policy of equidistance between allies on the one hand and those who are openly testing our values, our borders,” she said.

Referring to Trump’s recent verbal attacks on Nato, the EU, and Germany, she added: “Our American friends know that their tone towards Europe and Nato has a direct impact on the cohesion of our continent.”

Her warnings on Islamophobia and fake news also came after Breitbart, a US website close to Trump, published fake stories designed to stir anti-Muslim feelings in Germany, and amid deep mistrust of the new US leader in German society.

Seventy eight percent of respondents said they viewed Trump with concern, compared to 58 percent on Putin, according to a poll for ZDF television out on Friday.

Another 46 percent of respondents told the GfK SE pollster that they would reconsider visiting the US due to Trump.

Mattis

Trump’s new defence chief, James Mattis, spoke in Munich alongside Von der Leyen in a sign of solidarity.

He thanked her for her “stirring words” and said the US had “great respect for Germany’s leadership role in Europe.”

He said that his warning, issued at a Nato meeting in Brussels this week, that the US might “moderate” its involvement in Nato if European states did not spend more on defence did not call into question Nato’s mutual defence.

“Article five is a bedrock commitment,” he said, referring to the Nato treaty clause on the issue.

He praised the EU and said that “American security is permanently tied to the security of Europe”.

He also said that Nato allies had a joint mission to “protect the rules based international order” and the “values that grew out of the Enlightenment.”

He said the US would “confront those” who attacked “innocent people or our democratic processes” in a reference to Russia's bombing campaign in Syria and its US election hack.

Juncker attacks US on Nato spending

The commission head says the US should count EU development spending as a form of security, in a direct challenge to US comments on Nato.

Interview

Sikorski: Let's give Trump time to be 'educated'

Former Polish foreign minister said he hoped new US president will learn how the world works and that EU leaders have "enough statesmanship" to steer Europe out of trouble.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  2. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  3. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  4. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  5. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election
  6. Irregular migration into EU drops to four-year low, says Frontex
  7. Macron's new migrant law faces opposition in parliament
  8. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  2. We are not (yet) one people
  3. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  4. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  5. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  6. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  7. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  8. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission