Relaxation in Ukraine – Handelsblatt Morning Briefing

The only good thing about the Ukraine crisis is that you don’t have to think so much about Corona. Compared to the prospect of a war on our doorstep, the issues of 2G and 3G suddenly no longer seem so important. After a few days’ break, let’s take a look at the pandemic situation again, and lo and behold: According to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), the omicron wave in Germany is now past its peak.

The draft resolution for today’s Prime Ministers’ Conference says that the corona protection measures should largely be abolished by March 20th. As a first step, private meetings for vaccinated and recovered people with more people should be possible again. The 2G rule is to be dropped in retail, but the mask requirement will remain in place.

It’s high time, says my colleague Jan Hildebrand in our leading article: “Anyone who doesn’t want to bring society back to normal under the current conditions – which the hospital companies also say there’s no risk of the healthcare system being overburdened – won’t do it any time soon be able.”

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Yesterday we spent a few minutes in the Handelsblatt newsroom considering whether we should actually put the headline on the report on the meeting between Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Cautious approach”.. On the one hand, the “approach” could have seemed involuntarily funny if the photo of the absurdly large table had been shown directly below, at the opposite ends of which Scholz and Putin had placed themselves – part of the strict Corona rules in the Kremlin.

Like Macron before him, Chancellor Olaf Scholz also took a seat at Putin’s long negotiating table.

(Photo: AP)

On the other hand, “rapprochement” would suggest that the matter had come closer – which is not the case. All Putin seems to have come to is the happy realization that a war of aggression against Ukraine is not currently the best possible way to advance his security agenda. In the end, we opted for the headline “We don’t want a war”.

According to US President Joe Biden, a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “still” a clear possibility. Recent statements from Moscow that some troops would be withdrawn from the border with Ukraine have not yet been independently confirmed, Biden said on Tuesday evening European time in the White House. US intelligence indicated that Russian forces remained in a “threatening position,” Biden said.

“Europe breathes a sigh of relief, at least a little”, analyzes the foreign head of the Handelsblatt, Nicole Bastian. It looks as if diplomacy will get another chance in the Ukraine crisis.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz after his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

In addition, the near-war in the east is likely to change security policy in Europe in three ways.

  • First: The Ukraine crisis provides an additional argument for all those who are demanding higher defense spending from the European NATO states. Refusing to do so is now becoming more difficult.
  • Secondly: In the confrontation with Russia, neither the EU nor NATO have allowed themselves to be too obviously divided. A welcome reminder of how strong unity can be.
  • Third: The painfully aware dependence of the EU and especially Germany on Russian natural gas is likely to accelerate the energy transition to wind, sun and hydrogen.

Putin is unlikely to like any of these three changes. However, if Russia does not also get the feeling that its security interests are being taken into account, the confrontation in Ukraine can quickly escalate again. So what to do?

The manager Klaus Mangold is one of the best experts on Russia in Germany. The 78-year-old is now Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Knorr- Bremse. Previously, he was, among other things, chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations. In an interview with the Handelsblatt, when asked about Putin’s goals, he says: “He wants to stop the eastward expansion of NATO and a major conference on European security policy. He will not achieve these goals with an invasion.”

I wonder: if it really is this conference that Putin wants, why shouldn’t he get it?

We had just gotten used to the fact that the era of double-decker giant jets is gradually coming to an end, because Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 can only be filled on a few routes. Then Lufthansa surprised us with the news that they soon want to use a jumbo jet on holiday flights to Mallorca. Because of the surprisingly large number of passengers, the airline is also ending its job cuts earlier than expected.

The new personnel planning provides that Lufthansa will remain at just under 107,000 full-time positions and thus above the 100,000 mark, which CEO Carsten Spohr had named as the lower limit. Shortly before the start of the corona crisis, the group had 138,000 full-time jobs.

Finding: The joy of flying does not seem to be destroyed even by corona travel restrictions and compulsory masks on board. And apparently the flight shame didn’t make it to the gate in time.

And then there’s Paul McCartney. The former Beatles singer and self-confessed vegetarian now makes in imitation chicken. McCartney took a stake in vegan entrepreneur Timo Recker’s company Next Gen Foods. Its Singapore-based start-up produces a plant-based chicken meat substitute. The investment is part of a funding round that saw the company, which was founded in 2020, raise a total of $100 million, Next Gen Foods announced on Tuesday. Recker, who comes from Lower Saxony, wants to use the money to get started on the US market.

Before his founding career, Recker had briefly worked in his family’s meat plant, which produces frozen schnitzel for supermarkets. Watching the pigs being slaughtered gave him problems, Recker said. And at some point it was over for him with “Live and Let Die”.

I wish you a day when you don’t have to choose between breast and club.

Best regards

Christian Rickens

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