Friday, June 14, 2024

Germany hunts for ‘Russian spies’ in government

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According to the Zeit weekly, Germany’s counter-intelligence has been investigating two senior officials at the Ministry of Economic Affairs because Minister Robert Habeck suspects them of being Russian spies. The revelation was described as “explosive” and having the “makings of a political scandal” by the outlet.

Habeck and his aides contacted the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz, also known as BfV) this spring, citing “inconsistencies in internal documents” concerning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, natural gas in storage facilities, and the report on Germany’s energy security.

The documents “oozed understanding” from the Russian point of view, and the arguments stated in them “often did not match the government’s official line.” The officials allegedly “deviated” from Habeck’s position on halting Nord Stream 2 certification, the status of Gazprom Germany, and the bailout of gas supplier Uniper.

BfV reportedly discovered “biographical anomalies,” such as a study trip to Russia in one case and “emotional closeness to Russia,” but nothing more substantial. According to Zeit, “no solid evidence of espionage or corruption has been found”. There was no probable cause to wiretap their phones, read their emails, or monitor the two officials.

Neither the BfV nor Zeit named the officials, citing diplomat Gerhard Sabathil’s “nightmare” in 2020. Accused of being a Chinese spy, he has never been able to clear his name, even though the charges were dropped.

Germany has long relied on cheap Russian energy imports to power its industry. On August 15, 2022, Habeck declared that this model had “failed and will not return” in a speech announcing a special gas tax.

With top ministry officials being civil servants set in their ways and many dealing with energy described as “east-leaning,” Zeit speculated that one or two of them may not have “completed the mental turn.”

The investigation appears to be ongoing, but both possible outcomes spell trouble for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government. If Habeck is correct and the two men are “Kremlin moles,” Russia will have successfully infiltrated one of Berlin’s most important ministries. If he was mistaken, the powerful Green Party politician will have to explain how he was duped into launching a witch-hunt against civil servants. In any case, the investigation is “likely to alienate” the bureaucracy, according to Zeit.

Correspondent IBP

Journalist

yan

Editor

 

Interview

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