Russia mulls new WWII reparations claim
Russia's parliament wants to claim billions of euros in new war damages from Germany, citing current economic woes caused by the drop in the population 70 years ago, news reports said on Tuesday.
"The reparations should amount to at least €3 to €4 billion," Mikhail Degtyarov, a leading member of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, told the Izvestia newspaper.
According to Degtyarov, Germany had made "practically no reparations for the devastation and atrocities" unleashed after the 1941 invasion of the USSR.
Assets received by the Soviet Union amounted to little more than some furniture, clothes and manufacturing equipment allocated from the Soviet sector of control under the 1945 Yalta agreements between the Allies, he said.
But no agreement was ever reached with West Germany before or after reunification on the cessation of reparations, he claimed.
Upon the completion of its computations, a workgroup set up in the State Duma lower chamber will issue a corresponding demand to Germany.
Influential members of other parties also supported the idea, floated as western sanctions are now hitting Russia hard for its intervention in Ukraine .
"Without the war, Russia would today have a population of 300 to 400 million people [instead of 143 million]," added Vladimir Komoyedov, a member of the Communist Party and head of the Duma Defence Committee.
Around 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives in the Second World War.
Exacerbating the country's own hardships, it also sent shipments of grain to Germany after the war, said Sergei Fokin of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who Fokin noted is pushing for additional economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, "might not have been born if the victor had not helped the vanquished", Fokin told the paper.
The foreign policy expert conceded that Germany would hardly agree to pay anything, but that "it is necessary to remind people of this history".
When similar comments were floated in Greece recently by the new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, Germany made it clear there would be no discussion of reparations 70 years after the war's end.
Russia's political elite initially derided western sanctions imposed last spring over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and military support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
But as the sanctions tightened and the international oil price dropped, the Russian economy started to founder in the second half of 2014.
The rouble lost half of its value against the dollar, hurting the population's pocket and placing businesses under strain to repay interest on foreign debts held in dollars and other currencies.