Moscow / Berlin (dpa) - The conflicts in Ukraine and Libya are the focus of the first trip to Russia by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) since the beginning of the Corona crisis this Tuesday.

Other topics of his conversation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow will be dealing with Iran, the Syria crisis and cooperation with Russia in the United Nations Security Council. Increasing tensions in relations between the two countries are also likely to come up.

"Wherever there is a need for clarification, the best thing to do is to speak openly," said Maas before he left. "The German-Russian relationship is too important to be left to its own devices." These are the conflict issues:


The German government sees Moscow as the key to solving the last bloody conflict in Europe - in eastern Ukraine. Maas and Lavrov have been struggling for years to make progress in implementing the peace plan, which has so far been largely on hold. A next summit to resolve the conflict is planned in Berlin. However, the preparations are overshadowed by ever new allegations that there is too little movement in the crisis on the Russian or Ukrainian side. The war between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has been going on since 2014. According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have died so far.


With the Berlin Libya summit in January, the federal government took on a mediating role in the conflict. Russia is one of the powers that be heavily involved in the war. The gigantic empire is repeatedly criticized for supporting the rebellious General Khalifa Haftar. However, Lavrov also met government officials from Libya in Moscow. The federal government continues to urge implementation of the Berlin summit resolutions. This includes compliance with the arms embargo on Libya that has existed since 2011. According to the findings of the United Nations, Russia is one of the countries that still does not adhere to it.


Relations between the two countries are strained by, among other things, a crime. The trial of the murder of a Chechen with Georgian citizenship in Berlin is due to begin in the fall. The Federal Prosecutor sees Russian government agencies as masterminds. The German government accuses the Russian government of a lack of cooperation in the investigation and has therefore expelled two Russian diplomats. After the charges against the alleged contract killer in June, Maas threatened with further punitive action.


The biggest cyber attack to date on the Bundestag in May 2015 also caused annoyance in Berlin. Computers in numerous parliamentary offices were infected with spy software, including computers in the Chancellor's Bundestag office. The Karlsruhe investigative authority obtained an international arrest warrant for a young Russian hacker. He is accused of acting as a secret service agent and spying on data. Merkel recently described the attack in the Bundestag as an “outrageous” process. The Russian leadership also refused to participate.


For the German economy, the visit is about a very practical problem in German-Russian relations. She urges the borders of both countries to be reopened. The current “dead point” must be overcome by the Maas trip, said the head of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), Matthias Schepp. In order to expand the traditionally close economic contacts, entrepreneurs would have to be able to look each other in the eye to conclude new contracts. The EU's borders with Russia have been closed since March because of the pandemic. Germany is criticized in Moscow for holding back a European unification to open the borders with Russia.

With his one-day trip to Russia, Maas is only leaving the EU for the second time since the Corona crisis began in March. After his short stay in Moscow, he will travel to St. Petersburg, where the focus will be on the memory of the victims of the Leningrad blockade in World War II. At that time, more than a million people died when the Wehrmacht starved the city. Before leaving, Maas spoke of a “horrific war crime against the Russian people, for which Germany is responsible and which we must never forget”. The federal government is supporting a hospital for war veterans and survivors with twelve million euros.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200811-99-121048 / 2

GBA to take over the investigation on December 4th

Attorney General on the indictment in June