Vladimir Putin is stirring up the migrant crisis in a bid to whip up anger in Germany and get Angela Merkel ousted from power, a senior strategist has claimed.
Russia is using an ‘information war’ to spark dissent against the German leader who has been an advocate of sanctions against Putin’s regime, the Nato expert said.
The director of Nato’s Latvia-based Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Jānis Sārts, said there was evidence Russia was agitating in Germany.
He told the Observer’s Daniel Boffey: ‘(Russia) is establishing a network that can be controlled. You can use it as they have tried to do in Germany, combined with the legitimate issue of refugees, to undercut political processes in a very serious way.
‘Angela Merkel has been a very adamant supporter of continued sanctions against Russia If it was just punishment, that would be OK – but it is testing whether they can build on pre-existing problems and create a momentum where there is political change in Germany.
‘I think they test whether they can – in such a big country, with not so many vulnerabilities in normal times – actually create a circumstance through their influence where there is a change of top leadership.’
Last year, 1.1million migrants arrived in Germany under Merkel’s liberal asylum policy.
This mass arrivals have sparked support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which the German Chancellor has criticised for stirring up prejudice.
It come days after NATO’s top commander in Europe accused Vladimir Putin of deliberately ‘weaponising’ the refugee crisis in order to overwhelm and destabilize the continent.
General Philip Breedlove said the massive flow of migrants from Syria has had a disruptive effect on the European countries where they found refuge, and that this has worked to Russia’s advantage.
General Breedlove warned last week that Russia was helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turn the refugee crisis into a ‘weapon’ against the West.
‘Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve,’ Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Breedlove, who also heads the US military’s European Command, suggested this creates a distraction for Western powers as they grapple with the crisis and are forced to take their eye off its root cause.
‘These indiscriminate weapons used by both Bashar al-Assad, and the non-precision use of weapons by the Russian forces, I can’t find any other reason for them other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem,’ Breedlove said.
Article sources: DAILYMAIL