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'Germany should moot Russian gas ban'

The Local · 18 Mar 2014, 12:00

Published: 18 Mar 2014 12:00 GMT+01:00

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The Spiegel suggested that European fears of Russian sanctions leading to economic problems should be turned around.

"Russia is dependent on exports from the EU, in particular from Germany. But more painful than export restrictions would be if the EU were to stop, or at least convincingly threaten to stop, gas and oil imports from Russia. Income from this supply is the hook on which the Russian state hangs - and also Putin's military machine.

"The missing Russian gas and oil could be compensated for by deliveries from other sources. Of course such steps would push up energy prices in Germany and the EU. The growth rate, which is in any case weak, would suffer. But if we Germans are serious about taking on more responsibility in foreign policy, we must be ready to pay this price."

The strings which Putin is pulling in the post-Soviet region will sooner or later lose their power, the Mittelbayerische Zeitung in Regensburg said.

"The simple truth is that Russia is not strong. Outside of Moscow and St Petersburg, the enormous empire is rotten. The regime can cushion structural weaknesses with energy billions, but in the medium-term Putin will fail," it predicted.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung referred to the sanctions imposed on a number of Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. "It sounds grotesque when the CDU Europe politician Elmar Brok says, oligarch wives will no longer be able to go shopping in London. Oh dear! If that is the result of the sanctions against Russia, then one has to ask whether Europe has no other worries.

"If the 21 Russian and Ukrainians whose bank accounts were frozen are such dubious figures, perhaps one should have not allowed them to open accounts in the first place? But because money does not stink, the German economy is probably also holding back. It is about business, turnover and profit - just as it is with China. The international financial markets were relaxed in any case about the sanctions."

The Saarbrücker Zeitung said Europe had a problem in that answering yesterday's aggressive annexation policy with diplomacy today looked weak. "Europe, after its long hesitation, must isolate Putin politically, step by step, and if necessary, push him in a corner economically.

"That will take time and takes effect more slowly than a military sensation. But at the end of the day, it would be an effective modern answer to the Kremlin's Cold War demeanour. And it could strengthen Europe by demanding unity."

The Badische Zeitung suggested the conflict over Crimea would push East-West relations back by years - and damage them for years to come.

"But time is working against Putin, even tough the threatening economic war would leave deep marks in the European economy in particular. Russia's economy must urgently be modernised, and needs western technology to do this.

"Russia's new middle class is developing, as well as increasing prosperity, demands for political participation. Fear of losses feeds unrest. And Russia's neighbours will look for alternatives to escape the threatening 'care' of the Kremlin. The west should therefore be patient, even if that is very difficult to do. Its social model does not only fascinate with its prosperity, but also with its values. If we live by them consistently."

The Rhein Zeitung in Koblenz said the sanctions against Russia were little admittedly more than a pinprick.

"But their actual meaning is in the message that the spiral of punishments has started - and could continue. The considerations of some member states against a strengthening of the measures is understandable.

"Those who are completely dependent on Russian deliveries will have trouble agreeing to chaos at home. If the EU actually wants to impose additional sanctions, it will have to achieve a lot - including supplying member states which are dependent on Moscow. Brussels is ready for this."

READ MORE: Left-wing leader calls for Crimea poll acceptance

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