Die Welt (Germany): the true asymmetry in the relations of Germany and Russia

The German state machine sometimes runs very slowly. It took five years before the government formally laid on Russia responsible for the hacker attack on the German Bundestag. Only now the Russian Ambassador was “invited to conversation” in the Ministry of foreign Affairs. And this is the weakest form of expression of diplomatic displeasure.

In a press release the Ministry of foreign Affairs even have avoided using typical of such cases the wording of that “Ambassador summoned for questioning”. However, the report says that in a conversation with Sergei Nechayev hacker attack was “condemned in the strongest terms”. It certainly made the Ambassador a strong impression.

The German government has restored the sequence of operations for cyber attacks on the Bundestag and came to one of the employees of the Russian military intelligence and its hacker group АРТ28, also known under the code name Fancy Bear. The same group during the election campaign in the United States in 2016 broke into the server of the Democratic party, she’s responsible for dozens of other hacker attacks abroad. This unit is part of an ongoing shadow war of Russia against the West.

The attack on the Bundestag lasted for months and finally in may 2015 for a few days paralyzed the entire computer network. It was an attack on the heart of German democracy — the reaction of Germany on the incident was still disproportionately low-key. An invitation to the Russian Ambassador seems more like a kind of ritual act than a strong reaction of the country, aware of its own significance.

Still, the Federal government is going to take measures so that the EU sanctions regime in connection with cyberdialogue was applied to those who are responsible for a hacker attack. But the point is that we do everything to have been liable individuals, but not the customer-the Russian government.

No deterrence for any future attacks from these sluggish measures is not coming. However, with the end of the cold war, the word “intimidation,” and so disappeared from the political lexicon of Germany.

In the case of such attacks usually talk about asymmetrical warfare. But the attack on the Bundestag generally indicates a significant asymmetry in the relations of States. The impression is that Moscow sees no problem in the fact that an attack on one of our most important democratic institutions could damage its relations with Germany.

But the passive reaction of Berlin points to the fact that the Federal government itself imposes the restrictions out of fear that our reaction to the attack was too much angered the Russian side. This indicates a real asymmetry in the relations between the two countries: for Germany relations with Russia more important than Russia’s relationship with us. And it’s a problem because this is included in the calculation of Moscow.