Head of German Intelligence: Putin has declared War on the West

EU | October 17, 2022, Monday // 17:01|  views

Bruno Kahl

The head of Germany's secret service has called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "declaration of war" on the entire Western democratic world.

Speaking at a public session of a parliamentary committee, Bruno Kahl, who heads the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), said that President Vladimir Putin's war was therefore not primarily over the territory of Ukraine.

Putin will continue to use force - as he has done in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Crimea and Donbss - to achieve his political goals”, he said.

As for the conflict in Ukraine, Kahl expects fighting to continue into next year as neither side is willing to cede territory.

He also stated that the BND's warnings in the past have gone largely unheeded:

"Unfortunately, it has become commonplace in public discourse in recent decades to repeatedly ignore and suppress real threats - and to dismiss warnings from security agencies as fear-mongering and pomposity."

Events like the war in Ukraine show why Germany needs its security agencies”, Kahl said.

Other current major threats include "an autocratic China rising to become a global power," he added.

Martina Rosenberg, president of the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), said that in addition to Russian espionage activities, China's intelligence activities against the Bundeswehr "have been at a high level for years".

The Intelligence Control Board usually meets in secret, but once a year federal intelligence chiefs speak to them publicly.

They warned today that China could use parts of critical infrastructure as leverage to pursue political goals. It comes at a time when Berlin is debating whether to allow Chinese shipping company Cosco to invest in the port of Hamburg.

  • Germany's Green-run economy ministry wants to veto Cosco's bid to buy a stake in one of three terminals at Germany's most important port, while the Social Democrat-run chancellery is more inclined to agree, according to government sources cited by Reuters.
  • The dispute reflects a broader and heated debate in Germany about how to reduce dependence on China, its main trading partner, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine highlighted the dangers of relying on an increasingly assertive and authoritarian state.
  • China urged Germany not to politicize the countries' economic relations or engage in protectionism "in the name of national security" - an approach used for years by the US.
  • In a parliamentary hearing that touched on a range of security issues, the heads of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence agencies said they could not make a public assessment of Cosco's bid, but generally urged caution.

"We are very, very critical of China's involvement in critical infrastructure," said Bruno Kahl, noting that the port should be seen in this category, which makes any possible investment very carefully scrutinized.

Germany should expect China to use technology, including 5G infrastructure, or economic power to realize its ideas, he added. "In the event of a political disagreement between China and Germany, these tools will be used," Kahl said.

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence, Thomas Haldenwang, explained that allowing critical infrastructure could open the door to sabotage and influence public opinion.

"When I talk to foreign partners about China, they always say: Russia is the storm, China is climate change," he said. "So we will have to prepare for this climate change in the coming years."

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Tags: German, war, Russia, Ukraine


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