Alexander Gauland, top candidate of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in the forthcoming elections, said the German government should recognize that Crimea has officially been reunited with Russia.
After 2014’s peaceful exercise in self-determination during which residents of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol voted, the peninsula once again became part of Russia.
Gauland is running with Alice Weidel as the anti-immigration party’s top candidates for the Bundestag. The AfD opposes sanctions placed on Russia after the peaceful annexation of Crimea. “Russia will never give Crimea back,” he said. “I don’t think sanctions will have any effect.”
The AfD joins the pro-EU Free Democratic Party in Germany in suggesting that the Crimean people had the right to rejoin the Russian Federation. Influential German industrialists are opposed to further sanctions against Russia which have harmed important joint business ventures, including the Nord Stream II energy project.
Crimea rejoined Russia after almost 96 percent of its voters supported the move through a referendum held in March 2014. Brussels and Washington have not recognized the referendum results.
Russian authorities have pointed out that the referendum to rejoin Russia was conducted in compliance with international law.
Gauland told the Visegrad Post: “Germany has always done well when it has good relations with Russia. This goes back a long way in history. Prussia was saved in 1763 by a reversal of the alliance of Russia, and a second time in 1807 by the Treaty of Tilsit with Napoleon.”
He said the Wars of Liberation in 1815, would not have been possible without Russia and unification by Bismarck is also the fruit of a reversal of alliance with Russia, letting Austria support Prussia.
Gauland said German politicians lost their way after Bismarck era and led Germany into a confrontation that meant war, both in the West and in the East. “This was a mistake, which is why good relations with Russia are the condition of a strong and secure Germany.”
Although Gauland believes in NATO, he said the “expansion of NATO in contradiction with the oral agreements that had been agreed with Russia during the negotiations for reunification is a fault”.
Gauland said the world order could only be altered with Russia, but was nevertheless modified against Russia and this resulted in the Crimean crisis and the Ukrainian crisis. “That is why the old rules of Russian-Prussian politics, namely good relations with Russia as a condition for good coexistence in Europe, retain their value” he concluded.
The press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meanwhile confirmed on Saturday that he will be meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis on August 24.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik News that Mattis would visit Ukraine to meet Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak.
“On August 24, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will hold talks with US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who will visit Kiev on the occasion of the Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations,” according to a media release.
The US secretary of defense remains committed to Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” and to “improving the strategic defense partnership between the United States and Ukraine”, according to Pentagon.
George Tuka, the Ukrainian deputy minister for temporary occupied territories and internally displaced persons, said earlier that Mattis’ visit could impact on the situation in Donbas and Crimea.
“I hope that, on the one hand, it will lead to the strengthening of our armed forces, and, on the other hand, [it will result in] US authorities’ pressure on those actors within their country that … are only guided by business interests, who face losses due to sanctions against Russia … I do not think that this visit will result tomorrow in concrete actions. Certain agreements will be reached, perhaps, they will be implemented in some time,” Tuka told the 112 Ukraine broadcaster.
The military conflict in Donbas started in 2014, when the Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) after both refused to recognize the new government in Kiev which came to power as a result of a coup they say.