More than two dozen countries, including Germany, are presenting a united front to expel Russian diplomats after a former Russian spy was subject to a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies involvement, but most western countries aren’t buying it. We speak with Andreas Kluth, Editor-in-Chief of Handelsblatt Global, about how the diplomatic community is responding to Putin’s antics.
Kluth calls the expelling of Russian diplomats, “the most concerted diplomatic response to Russian bullying” since the end of the Cold War, and hopes that the response is “a sign of something larger” in the fight against Russian meddling. From hacking the Bundestag to tampering with U.S. elections, this attack is just one more piece of evidence of what Kluth calls Putin’s “KGB methods.” In Kluth’s opinion, many in the international community have made up their minds to “call his bluff.”
Kluth notes, however, not everyone in the western world is supportive of this move. Austria, for example, has allowed Russian diplomats to stay, a decision Kluth finds “regrettable.” In Germany, opposition to expelling Russian forces has brought together two strange bedfellows: far-left group die Linke and far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Kluth says this commonality is largely the result of both groups having a strong base in east Germany, where pro-Russian and anti-American sentiments are prevalent. Kluth believes that Putin is using these divisions to his advantage: “He is hoping to split the western democracies, and the jury is out: he may eventually succeed.”