In August 2008, Georgia embarked on a military offensive in the Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia to regain control of the area. Russia responded by marching in its own troops into a buffer zone in the Georgian heartland and into Abkhazia. Four days after the invasion, Georgia, Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia agreed – on the basis of mediation by the EU – on a six-point plan to pacify the situation. At the end of August 2008, despite all warnings from numerous European countries and the USA, Russia recognized its independence from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia have since been interrupted.
As agreed, Russian troops were withdrawn from the Georgian heartland at the beginning of October 2008, but no withdrawal from the breakaway provinces themselves is planned. Russia intends to permanently station a total of 7,600 soldiers there. The war in Georgia brought sharp international criticism to Russia. Since 2012 there has been a direct Russian-Georgian dialogue on practical issues such as trade and transport.
At the United Nations, Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council with the right to veto and a participating state in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). According to estatelearning, Russia supports the work of the international community in Afghanistan and is also involved in the crises in Iran, North Korea, Darfur and the Middle East.
On September 30, 2015, President Putin applied to the Federation Council of the Russian Federation for approval of the deployment of Russian armed forces abroad. The request for military support from Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is given as a reason for the deployment in Syria. The Federation Council unanimously approved the proposal. The Ministry of Defense announced the beginning of air strikes on positions of the ” Islamic State ” in Syria. From American and Syrian sources it is said that the air strikes were moderate and Syrian rebels target opposition groups. The attacks allowed the Syrian government forces in the provinces of Latakia, Aleppo and Idlib much territory to win, including the long embattled city of Aleppo and Palmyra recapture.
On March 15, 2016, Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the majority of the Russian military contingent from Syria. The Russian naval base in Tartus and the air force base in Hmeimim in Syria should function as before.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Russia has made various attempts at mediation. All previous negotiation efforts have been unsuccessful. The military intervention is intended to help determine the terms of a negotiated solution. A ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey has been in place since the end of December 2016, but it is fragile.
German development cooperation
In 2001 the Petersburg Dialogue was launched as an open discussion forum that promotes understanding between civil societies in both countries. It is under the patronage of the German Chancellor and the Russian President. The bilateral meeting usually takes place once a year, alternately in Germany and Russia, and is devoted to questions of German-Russian relations. Participants are experts and multipliers from all areas of societies in Germany and Russia. The office of the German side of the Petersburg Dialogue is run in cooperation with the German-Russian Forum.
Since 1993 the cooperation with Russia has taken place within the scope of the TRANSFORM program of the federal government. In terms of content, the program concentrated on the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as on support in the development of the financial system. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) was responsible for implementing the program.
The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) works in Russia on behalf of the EU and various federal ministries and focuses on different priorities. On behalf of the Federal Government, the projects support national minorities, environmental issues and manager training. Since 1998, the manager training program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has been aimed at young specialists and managers across all industries small and medium-sized enterprises abroad. As part of the manager training program, GIZ teaches Russian managers western management techniques and supports them in restructuring their domestic companies and making them fit for the world market. Since 2006, German executives have also had the opportunity to undertake advanced training in Russia. The program offers the partners involved access to the other market.
The programs promoting the cultural identity of Germans from Russia are financed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Foreign Office. They include social and community-building aid measures.
The Center for International Migration and Development (CIM) is committed to strengthening civil society and democracy in Russia. Integrated experts support the work of non-governmental organizations.
The party-affiliated foundations Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Friedrich-Naumann – Stiftung, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung carry out many projects in Russia.
The Goethe-Institut can be found in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a branch in Moscow, an information center in St. Petersburg and information points in Kazan and Novosibirsk.