Russia is stirring up anger over immigrants in Germany to topple Angela Merkel, a senior Nato communications expert told The Observer newspaper.
Jānis Sārts, director of Nato’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Riga, Latvia, said Russia is installing a communications network in Germany “that can be controlled” to stoke political unrest for German Chancellor Merkel.
Sārts told The Observer: “[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.
He said: “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. They are using Russian speakers, social media, trying to build on the existing faultlines. Use the far right narrative and exploit that.”
Sārts, who was speaking in his capacity as a Nato expert said: “In general terms, you can trace Russian funding to the extreme forces in Europe. Either left or right — as long as they are extreme, they are good to come into the Russian picture as of possible use in their tactics.”