Tags: Cybersecurity | Hillary Clinton | Russia | Ukraine | network | bundestag | latvia

EU Extends Sanctions, Merkel Struggles Over Russia

german chancellor angela merkel

Berlin, Germany - German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media following talks at the Chancellery on July 2, 2020. (Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 02 July 2020 02:11 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The dysfunctional relationship between Russia and the rest of the European Union, particularly Germany, took another negative turn this week as the EU decided to extend sanctions targeting Russian goods as well as the country’s financial, defense and energy sectors for six months for failing to execute an established peace agreement with Ukraine in good faith.

The sanctions were initially levied after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

To date, the subsequent skirmishes in its aftermath have killed over 14,000 Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists.

Additionally, this week the Baltic nation of Latvia, which is home to the watchdog group the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP), banned Russia's RT television channels from being distributed on its territory.

Latvia declared that the move was made because of international sanctions which are currently in effect against the man, they believe is the head of the Russian state-sponsored TV network, Dmitry Kiselyov. Kiselyov, who is the head of the state Rossia Segodnya media group, said that he has never overseen RT and suggested that Latvia should apologize to the Network and cancel the move.

This isn’t the first instance of censorship against Russian media in Latvia.

2019 saw the NEPLP issue a ban on 10 other Russian television channels, including Dom Kino and Rossia RTR for what they claim has been "systematic hate speech and warmongering against Ukraine, including open calls to kill Ukrainian citizens."

Russia, which was a central character in the Democratic party’s years long attempts to delegitimize the 2016 presidential victory of Donald Trump, was also hit with election related sanctions that targeted 15 members of a Russian intelligence service and four additional entities that the U.S. Treasury Department said were involved in alleged election interference, as well as the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency and additional "malign activities" globally. 

The issue of additional sanctions against the Russians for hacking has now come back to the forefront as the country has attempted to defend itself against charges levied by the German government that Russian military hackers penetrated the networks belonging to the German Parliament back in 2015.

In May, an arrest warrant was filed by the German government against a Russian hacker named Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin. German authorities say he was a member of a hacking group named APT28 that also operates under alias including Fancy Bear, Sofacy Group, STRONTIUM, Sednit, Pawn Storm and Tsar Team.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov subsequently said  that after more than a month of the warrant being filed, German officials are still yet to provide any evidence of Badin's involvement in the breach.

That evidence, at a minimum, would be needed to fulfill an extradition request.

The claims against Russia have been heavily promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told the Federal Parliamentary or Bundestag, "I can honestly say, it pains me. On the one hand, I strive daily for a better relationship with Russia, but then on the other we see that there is solid evidence showing that Russian forces are also involved in such activities. This really does add tension to our work towards and our desire for better relations with Russia. It's also an issue I can't quite dismiss internally, I find it quite uncomfortable."

But in reality, at the time of the attack, Merkel ran into criticism across party lines due to her government’s slow walking manner in regard to the notification of the attack. While some officials were promptly alerted on May 12, 2015, members of parliament were not informed until weeks later.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Merkel was also accused by the Opposition Greens Spokesman on Network Policy, Konstantin von Notz, of sleeping on the issue, while one of Merkel’s Bavarian allies, Stephan Mayer, told the German newspaper Bild that, "In view of the seriousness of the attack, information should have been prompter and more insistent."

Neither sanctions, nor evidence are yet to be provided in the matter of the 2015 hack against the Bundestag. But as the moments pass while we wait for allegations to morph into the disclosure of any evidence of Russian government involvement, the current scenario has an eerily similar feel to America’s Democratic Party’s attempt to construct a Russian "boogeyman" scapegoat for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election loss.

Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. Read Julio Rivera's Reports — More Here.

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The issue of additional sanctions against the Russians for hacking has now come back to the forefront as the country has attempted to defend itself against charges by the German government that Russian military hackers penetrated networks.
network, bundestag, latvia
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2020-11-02
Thursday, 02 July 2020 02:11 PM
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