Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Tracking & Law Enforcement

Ukraine Overshadows NSA Rift Ahead of Obama-Merkel Talks

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets US President Barack Obama this week with shared fears over the mounting Ukraine crisis helping to mend ties ruptured by the NSA eavesdropping scandal.

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets US President Barack Obama this week with shared fears over the mounting Ukraine crisis helping to mend ties ruptured by the NSA eavesdropping scandal.

As tensions between Russia and the West unseen since the Cold War threaten to boil over, officials and analysts said ahead of Merkel’s two-day visit starting Thursday that Ukraine had given Obama and the German leader common purpose after a difficult half year.

Possibilities for bringing pressure to bear on Russian President Vladimir Putin — including economic sanctions — and progress on agreeing a major transatlantic trade accord known as TTIP are just two of the main issues on the agenda, a senior Merkel aide said Tuesday.

It is Merkel’s first trip to Washington since revelations by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that her mobile phone was also targeted in sweeping overseas surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

After Obama extended the invitation to Merkel, she noted in January that it would take “more than one trip” to repair the damage done.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert admitted Friday that, although Berlin last year pressed for a mutual “no-spy” pact with Washington, “concrete results” were not expected during Merkel’s stay.

The United States is seen as unwilling to set a fresh international precedent by entering into such an agreement with Germany.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

News weekly Der Spiegel said that the Ukraine crisis would allow the “pragmatic” Merkel to paper over that humiliating failure because a more pressing issue had taken centre stage.

“Thank Putin: due to the escalation in Ukraine, Merkel’s meeting with Obama can demonstrate transatlantic unity while in reality a deep rift remains,” it said.


The director of the transatlantic relations program at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Frances Burwell, said the US administration would be foolish to think Merkel or the German public had forgotten the NSA issue.

“I would expect that while Ukraine has made clear the need for the US and Europe to work very closely together and overcome the differences that we see on the NSA, it is still necessary to address these issues and to work towards a resolution,” Burwell said.

A senior German official said Tuesday that “of course the government is disappointed” by the failure to secure anti-espionage guarantees from Washington, while another said it would probably take “years” before such a pact could come about.

Merkel, the longest serving leader in the G8, is set to arrive in Washington Thursday and meet Obama Friday at the White House, where they will give a joint press conference before having lunch together.

She will also address the US Chamber of Commerce with a speech centered on TTIP, and meet International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and US senators.

A Merkel advisor said aid to debt-mired Ukraine to help it pay its massive outstanding gas bills from Russia and stabilize its economy would dominate the talks with Lagarde.

The director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Heike MacKerron, said that Merkel saw TTIP, which both sides hope to conclude next year, as a crucial deal to cement ties in the long run.

“Merkel views TTIP as a big opportunity for German jobs, the German economy,” she told AFP. “And I think Merkel is a chancellor who, despite the NSA, views transatlantic relations as key for Germany and so I think her hope is that something like TTIP will reaffirm the transatlantic relationship because frankly, I don’t think we have much else as a common project.”

Obama in 2011 honored Merkel with a White House state dinner, and she welcomed him to Berlin last year for a long-awaited visit with a rare invitation to speak at the Brandenburg Gate.

MacKerron said Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, and Obama were both coolly analytical politicians who saw their personal ties as there to serve the Western alliance, particularly in trying times.

“I think crises like the one we have now in Ukraine make it obvious to many people including Merkel where our allies are. They are definitely more on the other side of the Atlantic than at the Urals,” she said.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content


No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.


The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.


The Hive ransomware website has been seized as part of an operation that involved law enforcement in 10 countries.


Spanish Court agreed to extradite Joseph James O’Connor to he U.S., who allegedly took part in the July 2020 hacking of Twitter accounts of...


US government reminds the public that a reward of up to $10 million is offered for information on cybercriminals, including members of the Hive...


Employees of Chinese tech giant ByteDance improperly accessed data from social media platform TikTok to track journalists in a bid to identify the source...


A hacker who reportedly posed as the CEO of a financial institution claims to have obtained access to the more than 80,000-member database of...

Application Security

Virtualization technology giant Citrix on Tuesday scrambled out an emergency patch to cover a zero-day flaw in its networking product line and warned that...