Merkel’s ‘Anti-Russian Front’ Falls Apart

Merkel’s ‘Anti-Russian Front’ Falls ApartMerkel’s ‘Anti-Russian Front’ Falls Apart

More and more European countries oppose an extension of anti-Russian sanctions and disagree with the German policy towards Russia.

Attempts to save “European unity” are doomed, the German online newspaper “Die Freie Welt” reported on Thursday, according to Sputnik.

During her recent visit to Helsinki, German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to convince Finns to further follow the anti-Russian course and stressed the importance of pursuing a common EU policy towards Russia. However, this policy is in fact far from being united, the German online edition wrote.

The Chancellor visited Finland shortly before the upcoming elections in the country. During her speech at Helsinki University, she expressed concerns about a split in the European Union and called all EU countries to follow a common approach regarding economic sanctions.

The power of the EU is in its unity, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Strubb agreed with the German Chancellor. However, it was not easy for him to make this statement.

During the election campaign, Strubb’s opponents have successfully exploited the negative impact of sanctions and called for a dialogue with Russia. They draw attention to the fact that Finland has the longest border with Russia among EU states and that both countries always had close economic ties.

Finns are not the only ones who criticize Merkel’s tough stance towards Russia. Greece, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Cyprus and Austria are also expressing discontent about the anti-Russian sanctions under which they suffer more than other EU countries.

 Russia’s Role in Ukraine Seen Shifting

On a recent spring morning, an important visitor watched Russian-backed rebels conduct infantry maneuvers in eastern Ukraine, AP reported on Thursday.

Nearly a year into the Ukraine conflict, the extent of Moscow’s direct involvement has become clear: They may wear camouflage, but the Russians’ presence in eastern Ukraine is hardly invisible.

At the same time, there has been a tactical shift apparently aimed at minimizing Russia’s military presence, part of an effort to persuade the West to lift economic sanctions.

Visits by The Associated Press to training grounds like those near Yenakieyeve and interviews with dozens of rebels reveal that Russian armed forces spearheaded some of the major separatist offensives, then swiftly withdrew.

More recently, as a shaky cease-fire has taken hold, Russia has kept fewer troops in Ukraine but increased rebel training. NATO and an independent London-based Russian scholar estimate that Russia has several hundred military trainers in eastern Ukraine.

Since hostilities began around mid-April last year, the Ukrainian government and the West have accused Moscow of waging an undeclared war in Ukraine by sending thousands of troops to fight with the separatists and providing weaponry. At least 6,000 people have been killed on both sides.