Russia shuts down German broadcaster’s Moscow operation in retaliatory move

Russia announced Thursday it was shutting down the Moscow broadcast operation of the German state-owned public news organization Deutsche Welle in retaliation for Berlin banning Russian broadcaster RT DE.

Deutsche Welle and its staff members were stripped of their accreditation by the Russian government, Reuters reported, with Moscow saying it would seek to declare the news organization a “foreign agent.”

On Wednesday, Germany’s Commission on Licensing and Supervision (ZAK) banned the Russian state-controlled news network Russia Today (RT) from airing its German-language channel.

Euronews reported ZAK said that RT had “no other permit that is legitimate under European law” and had not been granted a license.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the ZAK’s decision an “attack on freedom of expression” and a “political move.”

The German officials who were involved in the decision to ban RT will also be barred from entering Russia, the foreign ministry said.

Germany is not the first country in recent years to stop RT from airing. Last year, Luxembourg rejected an application by the network to distribute its German-language service by satellite, Euronews noted.

Two German RT YouTube channels were also shut down last year for violating the platform’s policies on COVID-19 misinformation.

The developments come as tensions in Europe remain high, with Russian troops continuing to amass at Ukraine’s border. Germany has found itself in a complicated position due to its membership in NATO as well as its economic interests with Russia, particularly the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which Ukraine has labelled a threat to its security.

The pipeline runs from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. Critics have argued that the pipeline will isolate Ukraine and open it up to a direct invasion by Russia. The U.S. State Department warned last week that if Russia invades Ukraine, then the U.S. will move to shut down Nord Stream 2.

“I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR. “I’m not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward.”

Tags deutsche welle Mass media RT State media Television

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