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Germany and the Russian Federation: Bilateral relations

28.04.2022 - Article

With its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia is violating fundamental principles of international law. This war was preceded by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its actions in eastern Ukraine.

The European Union has reacted to the war of aggression against Ukraine with massive sanctions. These include extensive financial sanctions and strict export controls, which are having a profound impact on Russia’s economy, financial system and access to cutting-edge technology.

Russia’s role in the cyber attacks on the German Bundestag as well as its attempts to exert hybrid influence are also problematic. Annual intergovernmental consultations have been suspended since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Diplomatic channels with Russia are still in place, for example within the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) and via the German Embassy in Moscow. Germany and Russia used to enjoy a vibrant exchange in the cultural and educational sectors. In light of the Russian war against Ukraine, however, even in these spheres the exchange will not be continued as before. After English, German is the most commonly taught foreign language in Russia. Youth exchange was promoted in various ways, including by the Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange. However, it has been discontinued for the time being.

With the forced closure of the offices of the German political foundations as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation – DFG), the Russian Government has broken off key links between Russia and the rest of the world. The foundations and organisations which are now banned from operating in Russia have been working for decades to promote a dialogue between the two civil societies.

Remembrance of the past plays an important role in German-Russian relations. The Soviet Union’s victory in the Second World War is a key element of Russia’s culture of remembrance. Germany is aware of its responsibility to Russia and the other post-Soviet states for the 27 million Soviet victims of the Second World War. It is committed to sincere remembrance based on historical facts which recognises in particular the suffering of civilian victims.

The German Government also promotes efforts to preserve the cultural identity of the German minority in Russia.

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