Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

Germany Has Little Maneuvering Room in Ukraine Conflict

By Markus Becker, Florian Gathmann, Matthias Gebauer, Kevin Hagen, Valerie Höhne, Martin Knobbe, Veit Medick, Jonas Schaible, Fidelius Schmid, Christoph Schult, Christian Teevs, Gerald Traufetter und Severin Weiland

21 Jan 2022 · 14 min read

To a certain degree, the visit was a conspiratorial one. No photo, no press release – and the first meeting was a small one. William Burns, the head of the CIA, first attended a meeting last week with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his chief of staff Wolfgang Schmidt at the chancellor’s behest. Later, they were joined by Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, and staff members from Scholz’s Chancellery. The head of America’s foreign intelligence agency told them bluntly that if Russia attacks Ukraine, the pressure on Berlin to take a clear stand against Moscow will increase.

Despite the friendly tone among the participants, it was by no means an easy meeting. Germany and the United States have been far apart on the issue of Russia for the past several weeks. Burns brought a trove of intelligence with him on troop movements and sabotage units to convince Berlin of the U.S. view of the Russian threat.

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