back to article Germany stands down cyber boss over Russian ties

Germany's government has stood down the president of its Federal Office for Information Security, Arne Schönbohm, over his links to Russia. Schönbohm's woes erupted last week when late-night chat show ZDF Magazine Royale branded him a "Cyberclown" in a Twitter thread that detailed some of the wurst moments of his career: Was …

  1. Shalghar

    Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

    And another one with real or made up "russian ties" gets into the crosshair, as Manuela Schwesig for supporting pipeline gas over ten times more expensive and unreliable freedom fracking gas. However the price hike is not exclusively due to "russia cutting off" (which is mostly due to cutting off russia from swift, meaning, gas delivery would be unpaid) - not even after the destruction of the pipelines by interested parties, but partly a failed initiative to buy gas at whatever prices through a now state owned company since august 2022, partially to a misguided "rather sell gas reserves to poland than fill up your backup reservoirs" and of course due to those self destructive "no more evil resources" politics before any other sources had been secured. France, in opposition to this foolishness, keeps buying russian evil LNG at an increased rate.

    Paywalled and quite delayed current article:

    Non paywalled and closer (august 2022) to the date it started:

    Not that Nancy Faeser would be in any way qualified to lead "findings" with predetermined outcome, much less if you read the "Verfassungsschutzbericht" from the official site, published after her inauguration, expecially pages 112 and following:

    Grab your popcorn, read "1984" again and take a look whats currently happening.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

      Russian gas is only cheap because it's a geopolitical lever to force countries into doing Putins bidding. It was reasonably obvious years in advance that the completion of the new gas pipeline to Germany would be the point that the Russians invaded Ukraine.

      The price of France getting the "cheap" Russian gas at present is quite blatantly their political inactivity with respect to Ukraine.

      The problem with this is that it comes with a cost. The countries that Putin has said that he'd like to invade next in the east of the EU can see quite clearly that France and Germany (as the most influential EU members) put the economic benefits of cheaper than market price gas WAY above protecting other EU members from invasion and would almost certainly do so again in the future.

      This pushes them away from Germany and France, and towards people willing to defend them, which is the US which is halfway across the planet, or the UK in Europe. Neither of which are actually EU members and both of which are being pushed away by the EU in both diplomacy and trade. This meant that nobody was bothering to involve, invite or even consult the EU on important measures about supporting Ukraine and eastern EU nations. Hence the EU screaming "****" when they realised that they risked the EU becoming strategically irrelevant to it's own members and coming up with the "European Political Community" including everybody involved (including the UK) which met for the first time this month.

      1. Shalghar

        Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

        "Russian gas is only cheap because it's a geopolitical lever to force countries into doing Putins bidding."

        So "Putin" can travel back in time, as the cheaper gas price became a fact decades before he rose to power. Interesting view on a current situation with total disregard to everything before that does not strengthen pro war narratives.BTW there were long term treaties with fixed supply prices which lead to "cheaper than market price" gas as market prices rose.

        "This pushes them away from Germany and France, and towards people willing to defend them, which is the US which is halfway across the planet, or the UK in Europe"

        Ok so destroying the economy is a sign of "protection" ? The USA have never defended anyone but their self interest, albeit with the marketing scam of "freedom and democracy", which is legitimate of course for every state (putting self interest above all else), but have no issues at all to throw presumed allies to the wolves. Try finding the US concept of "theatre europe" and try to explain to me how turning all of germany into a nuclear wasteland protects germans.

        The UK, as a vassal state to the US must naturally follow suit and maybe in 1000 years or so the promised "bestest" trade agreement may materialize - or not.

        So how would the puny Bundeswehr "protect" Europe from russia ? During the 2000s powerful systems like the FlAK Panzer "Gepard" were put out of service, conscription was suspended and most of the military training facilities closed or even sold off. The G3 was replaced with the (comparatively) pea shooter G36, a severe downgrading in performance and precision to appease NATO mandate for 5.56mm Ammo which was not used in germany before.

        Back on topic, germany experiences a witch hunt for everyone with the "false" opinion in ministries and media alike. State secretaries visit media outlets regularly "to combat fake news" and Minister Faeser keeps declaring anyone who would demonstrate against the current self destruction as fascist right wing, "Reichsbürger" (people who dont accept the BRD/FRG), and likewise inclined since around 2 years and maybe even before but she was totally unheard and unimportant prior to her rise so i cannot say anything about that.

        BTW the dislike of several EU countries when it comes to germany has much to do with its neoiliberal "beggar thy neighbour" policies since 1998 so no newsworthy change here...

        " This meant that nobody was bothering to involve, invite or even consult the EU on important measures about supporting Ukraine and eastern EU nations."

        A bit ungrateful as massive meddling and not really professionally hidden support from germanys now president Steinmeier made the 2014 incident possible. Might be due to the fact that Minsk I and II were not only completely ignored by the ukraine, the EU representatives including those you mentioned did nothing at all to react or try their "partner" to honour the treaty, as the russians did until it became obvious that the other side refused to abide.Or it might simply be that the german pawn has outlived its use and can now be discarded.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister


      And another one with real or made up "russian ties" gets into the crosshair, as Manuela Schwesig for supporting pipeline gas over ten times more expensive and unreliable freedom fracking gas.

      Fracking gas isn't ten times more expensive than pipeline gas. It's more expensive to get out of the ground, but then as gas isn't sold at cost price that doesn't really matter. It just means that Russia makes more profit than the frackers. Gas prices tend to be linked to oil prices - so for Germany it should make little difference.

      Also, Germany already had enough pipeline gas - as did Europe. Countries were diversifying away from Russia on grounds of risk, not supply. Another pipe wasn't needed. The reason Nord Stream 2 was built, was so that Russia could stop sending gas through the Ukraine pipelines, and thus stop having to pay money to Ukraine's government and thus make them poorer and give Russia more leverage over them.

      Hence NS2 was a political betrayal by Germany of its allies in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. Given that the EU and UK (and US) had been supporting the Ukrainian government with funding, since the Russian invasion of 2014 - it as actually a betrayal of all of NATO. As they were engineering a situation where that support would need to be increased.

      Hence Schwesig is an interesting choice to defend, given she's guilty as hell. She was conspiring in secret with a foreign government (Gazprom is state owned and controlled by the Russian government) in order to get that pipeline built. Link to Der Spiegel article in English.

      So she helped set up and control a so-called environmental foundation to support this new "enviornmentally friendly" massive gas pipeline. Using Russian government money to do so. And then when Trump put sanctions on to stop NS2 being built - this environmental foundation started taking on some of the contracts on the betting that the US government wouldn't directly sanction a foundation linked to German government. Which worked.

      Now fair enough, using sneaky tactics while opposing Trump in defence of your own national interests isn't the worst thing to be accused of. It's just that this is one of the few times when Trump was actually right. Gasp! Angela Merkel's government even offered Trump the bribe that Germany would buy more US gas and build LNG terminals - thinking that this was his motive. I guess his real motive was to get at Germany as part of his "Germany free-riding on NATO" complaints (another thing he was right about) - and so he was using NS2 as a stick to beat Germany with because pretty much all of Germany's allies hated the project and saw it for what it was Germany doing a dirty deal with the Russian governmetn behind the backs of their allies. And directly against their allies' interests.

      However the price hike is not exclusively due to "russia cutting off" (which is mostly due to cutting off russia from swift, meaning, gas delivery would be unpaid)

      Ah, another untruth!

      When Russia brought in the decree of 31st March saying that gas had to be paid for in Roubles, this wasn't needed as Gazprombank hadn't been cut off from SWIFT. Because specifically of those EU countries that still wanted to buy gas. However this was another Russian diplomatic manouevre, to try to split the Western coalition. As paying this way broke the gas contracts Russia had with those countries, but also broke EU sanctions. Which the Commission said. But then under pressure from certain governments, they rowed back on. The below article shows that 2 of the three German gas companies had already set up the new payment methods. Which is why Russia continued to ship them gas - and moved on to the next tactic of pretending the pumping stations were breaking down.

      Link to Politico article on who was switching to Russia's new payment scheme

      So when you mention 1984 are you talking about the Russian government lying about pretty much everything. Even imprisoning people for calling the invasion of the next door country a war. In Newspeak of course we should say a double-plus good special military operation...

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

        Thanks for your comment, I actually learned a thing or two. Pint for you ---->

      2. Shalghar

        Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

        US Fracking gas is at least 8 times, (in peak times 10 times) more expensive for germany when you take the means of transportation and the additional costs of retransforming the LNG into useable gas into account. But lets read on a mainstream media site how they calculate the final price for germany:

        "Während eine Million „British Thermal Units“ (MMBtu) Erdgas – das entspricht etwa 26,4 Kubikmetern – in den USA gerade einmal 1,90 bis 3,80 US-Dollar kostet, lässt sie sich in Deutschland für 27,20 Dollar verkaufen.

        Diesen Gewinn von 1300 Prozent wollen sich US-Produzenten kaum entgehen lassen,"

        Nordstream 2 was meant to circumvent ukraine, that much is correct. Its not the only pipeline with the intent to go around an unreliable partner. However you do not seem to remember the constant theft of gas nor the blackmail attempt by ukraine to shut the pipeline down. Making the supply free from any such disturbances is indeed legitimate, much more so as Nordstream gas was delivered to poland, switzerland and other countries albeit via germany. How a business opportunity translates into backstabbing "allies" is beyond me, much less as the aformentioned countries insist on continuous deliveries and said deliveries are one of the factors that the reserves have not been filled appropriately, leading to the panic stricken and price inflating actions on the gas market.

        And, by the way, ukraine now threatens to destroy the "druschba" oil pipeline to blackmail hungary.

        Gazprom "germania" (every part the russians "let go" voluntarily to prevent the widespread theft through invoice (russian companies foreclosed as they could no longer pay their dues through swift although they had the money)) is actually "unter Treuhandverwaltung" (in escrow) by the german government who now intends to rename it to something more pleasing. The "rubles scheme" was initiated to circumvent the cutoff from swift. While you are correct that gazprombank still had access, gazprom "company" was already out at sea. You need both to pay for deliverance.

        When i mention Orwells warnings. that has not much to do with foreign countries but with tendencies and incidents happening in germany.

        As well as the aforementioned new thoughtcrimes, defined as per page 112 and following here:

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister


          I'm not really clear what you're arguing, or what you think we should do differently. There seems to be an awful lot of complaining about secondary effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And then complaints about some supposed witch-hunt in Germany.

          Manuela Schwesig for example has admitted that she fucked up, and that her Nordstream 2 policy was wrong. She did take/use money from a foreign government in order to pursue that government's preferred foreign policy. Now admittedly it was also Germany's foreign policy, so I'm not accusing her of being a traitor, or anything. Just terrible judgement - which many Germany politicians also shared in. However I might say Gerhard Schroeder pretty much is. He's a paid agent of the Russian government trying to influence German government policy - at the same time Russia is pursuing a war of aggression in Europe and threatening nuclear attacks on NATO.

          Lars Klingbeil (co-chair of the SPD), has just admitted that their whole Russia energy policy was a catastrophic mistake link to Politico

          The German government have announced a Zeitenwende - a complete turn-around of their foreign policy. Admitting that their previous foreign policy hadn't worked and therefore wouldn't you expect a bit of a witch-hunt? Someone has to blamed for past mistakes. This is politics...

          All your complaints about the poor Russians not finding it easy to circumvent sanctions seem totally ridiculous. What did they expect? They just launched a massive, unprovoked, invasion of Ukraine. The Russian government didn't even seriously pretend to negotiate, back in January / February. Because Putin's objectives for the war were clearly maximalist. He was out to conquer large chunks of Ukraine, not to get some sort of security guarantees from NATO or have it acknowledged that Ukraine was a Russian sphere of interest or anything like that.

          How a business opportunity translates into backstabbing "allies" is beyond me

          This I think is your problem. You see Nordstream 2 as a business opportunity. You are wrong. Many German politicians also saw it as a business opportunity. But Vladimir Putin doesn't. And never did. Some German politicians believed that they could tame Russia by making themselves economically inter-dependent. It's the theory behind the EU after all. If German and French heavy industry were linked, they couldn't fight (European Coal & Steel Community). If their politics were linked, they wouldn't want to (EEC / EU).

          But Vladmir Putin is a Cold War spy. Burning with resentment for losing the Cold War. And what he sees as humiliation by the West. Becoming, I suspect, more bitter and twisted as he's got older. He doesn't believe in mutual benefit, through economic and poliitcal cooperation. He believes in power. The brutal reality of the ability to force others to do your bidding. He also doesn't care about the ordinary people of Russia having a nice life. So if Russia gets vastly poorer, but more powerful - then to him that's a great trade-off. Back to the Soviet good old days.

          This is what Germany's Eastern European allies were saying for twenty years. This is why they wanted to join NATO. I've read recently, but only from one source so I don't know whether to believe it, that Poland actually threatened to build a nuclear deterrent unless it was allowed into NATO back in the 90s.

          Admittedly the Western Europeans agreed with Germany, Chirac famously said at an EU meeting on Russia that this would be a good time for Eastern European governments to shut up. The US and UK weren't onboard with Eastern Europe about the threat from Putin until maybe ten years ago. Late in the Obama administration.

          But since then almost all of Germany's allies (even France) and also the European Commission have been warning Germany about Nordstream 2. That it was a Russian power move and that we need to be less dependend on Russia, so they didn't think they had the leverage over our economies, so we wouldn't dare stop them doing something like invading Ukraine or the Baltic States.

          Incidentally, talking about backstabbing, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (former Estonian President) says that France and Germany vetoed NATO plans to defend the Baltic States back in about 2005. So while they were officially committed to go to war with Russia to defend them, they also made that defence impossible, a cynic might suggest so they could wash their hands and say, "Oh no! A fait accompli! There's nothing we can do, we'll have to negotiate with Russia and keep trading with them."

          It was only after Russia's invasion of Crimea that Germany and France were willing to allow the rest of NATO to plan to defend the Baltic States! After watching the various Russia crises, the Euro-crisis and other recent international crises, I genuinely don't think German politicians understand the meaning of the word "ally" in the same way I do.

          This post has got too long. And I've been interrupted writing it, so I'm too lazy to go back through and edit to sort it out. But my final point needs to be made. NS2 was not a business deal. It wasn't even about economics. It was about political leverage. Gazprom were found guilty of breaching EU competition law back in 2015. They promised not to do it again, and weren't penalised. Because the Commission knew the Russian government might threaten to cut off the gas. There's been no similar fear about fining Microsft and Google or starting a low key trade war with the UK. Because the EU don't fear the US or UK will try to destroy them over normal business or politics. Russia has used gas sales as leverage against Ukraine, repeatedly. That quote from you about Ukraine stealing Russian gas is at least partly a lie. Russia claims Ukraine are stealing gas when Ukraine use gas they are contractually allowed to take - as part of their transmission fees. Or as part of Russia's payment for the basing rights it was given in Crimea. Basing rights it got extended back ten years ago when it cut gas supplies to Ukraine in January, and then only restored after the government signed up to a new lease. A base Russia then used to invade Ukraine in 2014. I'm sure people in Ukraine were also guilty of stealing gas too though.

          Russia has also repeatedly used gas diplomacy in the case of Transnistria. Where it has "peacekeeping" forces in order to keep the frozen conflict going to "protect" the Russian speakers put there in Soviet times. A legacy of Stalin's invasion of Besserabia in 1940 - as agreed in the secret part of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact.

          Russia was always going to cut gas to Germany at some point. Or at least have the option, to threaten it, to compel German foreign policy.

          Collectively if the West had armed Ukraine after 2014, we could have avoided this war. Equally if we'd not been so dependent on Russian gas, Putin might not have thought he could get away with it. These are lessons we need to seriously look at for China/Taiwan policy too. Or we can just decide to ignore things like the invasion of Ukraine, and hope for the best. That would be a pretty stupid policy.

          1. GrumpenKraut

            Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

            MOAR beer in your general direction! ----------->

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister


              Why thankyou sir. But I haven't received the first beer you promised yet! I'm almost beginning to think that people sometimes say things on the internet that aren't true...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hexenjagd für Kleingeister

      Or look at all the ex-Stasi agents running the various Nordstream entities, like Matthias Warnig, an old friend of Putin from his KGB days in Germany?

  2. eldakka

    in a Twitter thread that detailed some of the wurst moments of his career


    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Ze German sense of humour is no laughing matter!

      1. Shalghar

        Upvoted for giving me a direly needed laugh in these mad and trying times.


  3. jamsenbrneq

    Er muss mit Vernunft gesprochen haben. Das reicht heutzutage aus, um Sie in Schwierigkeiten zu bringen. Er wurde gefeuert, weil er Verbindungen zum deutschen Geheimdienst hat oder weil es möglich ist, dass er das hat? Verdammt, ich könnte "möglicherweise" selbst Verbindungen zu ihnen haben.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like