Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 16.09.2017
Siemens is the best friend invader Russia could hope to have. Since Putin began attacking Europe in Ukraine over three and a half years ago, his strongest corporate supporter in the West has been Joe Kaeser and the German engineering firm he heads, Siemens.
Russia invaded Europe in Crimea on 20 February 2014. Russia declared that it had ‘annexed’ Crimea on 18 March 2014. At a time when the whole world was outraged at what Russia had done, Joe Kaeser, chief executive officer of Siemens, went to Moscow on 26 March 2014 and met with Putin. Kaeser publicly pledged that Siemens would support Russia. He made no comment on Ukraine. That day, Kaeser and Putin agreed how they would together oppose sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, break sanctions if they had to, and grease the wheels of the Russian war machine that is destroying the lives of Europeans in Crimea and Donbas.
As the de facto occupying power in Crimea, Russia has an obligation to provide water and electricity to the captive population. As almost all the water and electricity Crimea gets comes from other parts of Ukraine, Russia’s invasion cut off the only practical source of supply. The decrepit economy of Russia needs help finding a way to generate electricity in Crimea or to transmit electricity across the Kerch Strait. Joe Kaeser and Siemens concocted a scheme to ship four turbines to Crimea — breaking sanctions — by pretending to transfer them to a Russian firm in Taman on the Russian side of the Kerch Strait. It was obvious that the only possible destination for the four gas turbines was not Taman but the electricity generating plant the Russian invader-occupiers were building in Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine. The Siemens scheme was exposed in June 2015, but by then it was too late: the turbines were in the hands of the Russians.
For the next two years, Ukrainians and everybody else familiar with the case sounded the alarm. Siemens is “powering the Anschluss” – a deliberate reference to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria – but nobody seems to care. Siemens simply denied breaking sanctions and politicians and the mainstream media were completely silent on the matter or deflected to insignificant players like Russian subsidiary corporations. Joe Kaeser and Siemens shipped the turbines to Russia knowing full well the Putin regime would sneak them into Crimea, Ukraine. In July of this year, construction of the plant in Sevastopol was suitably advanced and the Russians tried to sneak the turbines from Krasnodar Krai, Russia to Crimea, Ukraine. The transfer was quickly detected using open source intelligence, but it went ahead openly. Joe Kaeser promised he would deliver for Putin in March 2014. In July 2017, he did. Siemens then pretended to appeal to the corrupt Russian courts to have the turbines returned. As was predetermined, the Russian courts refused. The turbines are in illegally-occupied Crimea, and Russia’s invasion of Europe is consolidated.
On September 15 the CEO of Ukraine’s Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev, announced that Siemens had stopped shipments of gas compressors to Ukraine. Siemens did this because of Russia. The German firm is quite open that it is choosing to abrogate its deal with Naftogaz to avoid any risk to its deals in Russia. Siemens has never seen Ukraine as the business opportunity that it is. Siemens sees Ukraine only as an obstacle to its war profiteering with Russia.
Siemens is a powerhouse of the European Union’s largest economy, Germany. Because of the sanctions-busting of Siemens, Germany is seen as sabotaging Europe. The damage to Germany’s reputation by providing cover to Siemens is very great, especially in Ukraine. Germany owes Ukraine a great deal, but instead – through Siemens – it is betraying a friend and ally. Ukraine, by its heroic defence stopping the Russian invaders, is saving Europe. It’s because of Ukrainian defenders on the battlefront in Donbas that Muscovy invaders are only at the Siverskyi Donets River in Europe and not at the Oder River in Europe.
By rights, Joe Kaeser as an individual and Siemens as an entity should be sanctioned for their support of Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine and for the grave threat they pose to international peace and security.