Relations between Germany and Russia are wide-ranging. The two countries’ political relations are overshadowed by Russia’s violations of fundamental principles enshrined in international law such as its annexation of Crimea and actions in eastern Ukraine. The European Union has responded by imposing sanctions on Russia that include the freezing of bank accounts and the imposition of travel bans on individuals and companies, as well as economic and financial sanctions in certain sectors. In response, Russia has banned the import of some agricultural products from the EU. Russia’s continued military support for the Assad regime in the conflict in Syria is a further point of contention, as is its role in cyber attacks on the German Bundestag.
At the same time, dialogue with Russia remains important. The rules of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe provide an important basis. Germany and France work together in the Normandy format to ensure that the Minsk agreements are implemented. Security-policy issues are discussed bilaterally in the German-Russian High Level Working Group on Security.
The Petersburg dialogue, which includes ten working groups on various aspects of society and meets once a year, is an important bilateral forum for German-Russian dialogue. The two countries also organise events in joint German-Russian years, which focus on a particular topic relevant to bilateral collaboration.
Germany is Russia’s largest trade partner after China. Russia’s most important exports are raw materials such as crude oil and natural gas. For its part, Germany primarily exports machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts to Russia.
Germany and Russia enjoy lively exchange in the cultural and educational sectors. After English, German is the most commonly taught foreign language in Russia. Youth exchange is promoted in various ways, including by the Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange.
Remembrance of the past plays an important role in German-Russian relations. The Soviet Union’s victory in the Second World War is crucial in 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.
The German Government also promotes efforts to preserve the cultural identity of the German minority in Russia.