Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 05.02.2018
More German companies are breaking sanctions imposed against Russian individuals and entities because Russia invaded Ukraine. They’re doing it indirectly, through Russian affiliate companies. Under the pretence of doing business in Russia with Russian companies, the German firms are actually selling goods and services in Ukraine’s Crimea, which since March 2014 has been illegally occupied by Russia.
Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser met with Putin in March 2014, days after Russia invaded Europe in Ukraine, to pledge long-term support by Siemens to Russia. Siemens carried out a plot to break sanctions and ship four turbines to Crimea in occupied Ukraine by way of Krasnodar Krai in Russia proper. Other German companies – Volkswagen, DHL, Adidas, and Puma – are also doing business in Ukraine (meaning Crimea) without the authority of the Ukrainian government, paying taxes to Ukraine, or respecting Ukrainian laws.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has had enough of Germans and their insidious corruption. Referring to German companies doing business in Crimea despite sanctions, Mr. Klimkin said: “Any attempt to bypass sanctions against Russia, introduced as a result of the annexation of Crimea, must be punished by law. … We have a wide range of legal mechanisms that we can use. We are in the process of finding a balanced solution.”
When Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, DHL, and Puma do business in Russia and in Russia-occupied Crimea the government in Moscow insists that they do so as if Crimea is a part of Russia. Violating international law, Russia has removed Ukrainian law from Crimea and imposed Russian law. Also, the invaders from Muscovy have stripped away Ukrainian citizenship from Crimea residents and forced foreign Russian citizenship on them. German companies cannot do business in Russia-occupied Crimea under Russian law without violating German law, EU law, and Ukrainian law.
Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, DHL, and Puma must state clearly and unambiguously that Crimea is Ukraine. They must adopt the language of the United Nations General Assembly that Russia is an occupying power in Crimea. They must proclaim that any alteration in status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol has no validity whatsoever. Only under such circumstances should they be allowed to do business.
The managers of these German firms are Russo-centric, and they’re poor business people as well. They are failing to seize the opportunity presented to Germany, as the leading economy of the European Union, of participation in a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with Ukraine – the largest country that lies wholly within Europe. No free trade agreement exists with invader of Europe, Russia.
Unfortunately it is in the nature of coalition politics for Germany to have an effete foreign policy. There are no bad consequences for German industrialists to indulge their Russo-centrism and go against the spirit of unity of the European Union and the strategic interests of Germany. No one in the German government calls them out on their immoral and (in some jurisdictions) illegal actions.
On February 4, members of the crypto-fascist “Alternative for Germany” party made an illegal entry to Ukraine. They did not cross at the land boundary between Crimea and Kherson, with the permission of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. The delegation of German parliamentarians entered Russia-occupied Crimea from Russia proper – as if Crimea was a part of the territory of the Russian Federation. The hard-right politicians are proud that they are violating Ukrainian law: “We don't care at all, we expect to visit Crimea more than once in future," said Roger Beckamp, member of the regional assembly in North Rhine Westphalia. He and the other German border crashers expect no ill consequences when they return to Germany.
German corruption is gnawing away at Ukraine. As the sole fighting defender of Europe from Russia’s invasion, Ukraine deserves support from other European democracies. At the very least it does not deserve to be made a victim by the corrupt practices of multinational corporations with headquarters in Germany. Ukraine is fed up with Germany’s empty words and back-stabbing actions. Crimea is Ukraine – any German company that fails to say this boldly and proudly does not deserve to stay in business.