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Insights into Moscow: German Ambassador explains how Putin entices poor Russians to the front

“It is certainly a diplomatic challenge to come to a country that is at war when representing a government that condemns this war,” said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, German Ambassador in Moscow, in an interview with the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” (RND). His first four months in the aggressor country allow him a deeper insight into the Russian society.

Lambsdorff observes that the war in Ukraine is largely kept out of the major cities and an illusion of normalcy is maintained. “In Moscow, volunteers for the army are being recruited through posters. But the restaurants and museums are open, and there are ballet and opera performances,” he told RND.

Drones attacks making a difference

But the drone attacks are making the difference, according to the diplomat. “There is no certainty of what might happen at night. The Moscow airports have to regularly close for a few hours, and there are also hits in the city,” he said. This also affects life in the capital.

In the countryside, the war is present in a completely different way. “There are also posters advertising military service, but with specific salaries and signing bonuses,” Lambsdorff reports. “Those who enlist are promised 2000 euros per month – significantly more than the minimum wage of about 130 euros.”

Militarization of education in Russia

The diplomat also noted a militarization in education. There is propaganda being conducted: “Gigantic billboards, 40 to 50 meters wide, where all the legendary Russian military commanders are listed one after the other, from Alexander Nevsky from the 13th century to Marshal Georgy Zhukov from the Second World War,” he describes. In front of each, it states: “Russia is the land of the victorious.”

History politics is not only a domestic propaganda tool for Putin, but also an external one. “In the new history book, it is claimed that the German reunification, in which the Soviet Union had a decisive role, was not a reunification at all, but an annexation of East Germany by West Germany,” Lambsdorff said in the interview. This has nothing to do with historical truth at all.

While the Kremlin is doing everything to reinterpret the German-Russian relations, this tactic seems to not fully convince the population. “Officially, we are accused of ruining the relations. But the people don’t see it that way,” the ambassador said. He almost never hears an unfriendly word on the street. On the contrary: He meets people who say, “Oh, you are from Germany, I would love to go there.”

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