Russia’s Trade Relations with Germany Will Weather the Storm of the Current Cooling

In light of the tensions stemming from the recent conflict in Ukraine, the question over the future of Russian-German trade relations has evolved into a hot button issue of discussion in European economic forums. Historically strong ties between the two powerhouses of the continent faced strains as Germany took part in an American-led Eurozone response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine that began after protests erupted in February of this year (2014). In the months since the crisis erupted, a series of sanctions have been leveled against sectors of the Russian economy that are associated with the government of President Vladimir Putin, including the defense, banking, and energy sectors. While many observers have pointed to these sanctions and the cooling of relations between political leaders as signs that the trade relations connecting the two states may be at risk, it is clear that the economic interests and cultural bonds are central to the continuity of comprehensive commerce between Russia and Germany over therussia germany long term.

At the most basic of levels, there currently exists a very strong people to people bond between the two countries. As of 2012, it was estimated that nearly 3.5 million Russian speakers live in Germany. This includes immigrants, ethnic Russians who have lived in Germany for multiple generations, and Jewish migrants who arrived following the fall of the Soviet Union. The vast majority of these people have maintained their ties to Russia, including with their families who have continued to live there. Many of these Russian speakers also build the bridge that are the backbone of the trade between the two countries and play an active role in not only the national level trade, but much of

the basic commerce of consumer goods. Placing a wedge between these two communities due to a geopolitical disagreement over policy may prove to be more difficult than government officials are anticipating.

On a national level that incorporates the purview of strategic cooperation, a quick glance at the immense rate of trade that exists in the Russian-German relationship can highlight further barriers to a breakdown in the current levels of trade. While the sanctions listed above have targeted spheres of business that are believed to be of personal interest to President Putin and his allies, there are two factors that must be taken into account. The first pertains to the energy sector. Russia is one of the primary sources of European energy with massive reserves of oil and natural gas. Europeans and Germany in particular are dependent on this energy to heat their homes and power their industry. In light of the sanctions levied at the Iranian oil imports over their suspected nuclear weapons program, Germany is most definitely feeling the squeeze over the need for a steady supply of fuel. Secondly, besides their immense energy production, Russia holds some of the largest sources of natural resources including timber, metals, and other commodities that are essential for Germany’s manufacturing industry. As the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, it is beholden upon the German leadership to weigh carefully potential risks that could affect their nation’s economy. If the flow of these resources were to be stopped, the blow that would fall upon Germany’s GDP would be intense.

Moreover, on top of these compelling arguments against a raid deterioration of economic relations between Russia and Germany, it is important to remember that all shifts in geopolitical realities, as with the disagreement over policies relating to Ukraine, force national leaders to adjust their approach to their counterparts as a part of growing pains. As Russia journeys through its repositioning on the regional and global stage and Germany as a part of the European Union also expands its reach into former Soviet territory, such abrasions will arise. Through these growing pains, trade can be expected to survive and ultimately strengthen.


The Morals of Boxing

Martial arts

There’s no denying it – boxing can be a violent, dangerous sport. In a recent article, one rabbi does a fairly good job of summarizing the history of Jews in boxing. Medical conditions that have been known to result from frequent, intense boxing are also well fleshed out in the article. The rabbi also brings a unique spin by discussing the religious ramifications of boxing. He cites various sources to come to the conclusion that, according to Jewish law, boxing is forbidden.
The rabbi chooses to emphasize all of the negative aspects of boxing, which generally only happen in the most extreme cases. Not everyone gets into boxing to become a full-time professional, going from title belt to title belt and cashing large checks. Boxing can also be used for strength, conditioning, discipline and self-defense. For certain members of society, better they take out their anger and aggression in a gym than on the streets.
Cardio exercises in the form of boxing can be some of the best in the world, and they don’t always need to involve hitting another person. The training and regiment alone can put anyone into the best shape of their lives, without ever having to step foot in a boxing ring. Boxing-style workouts can involve punching bags, jump ropes and weight training.
And for those who wish to actually step into a boxing ring and face an opponent – protective gear can be worn to minimize the risk of damage. Facing a real opponent can teach people how to think on their feet and react to certain situations. Like with all things in life, a person can either learn to fail, or fail to learn.
For those that actually make it to the professional level, long-term injuries don’t have to be a guarantee. Each boxer has to know their own limits, and throw in the proverbial towel when it’s time to quit. Consulting with a medical professional on a regular basis, especially before even taking up a particular sport, is always recommended.
I’m no rabbi. All I can say in response to the sources that this particular rabbi cites is that those who hold by these kinds of traditions should consult with their own religious leader. Explain why they wish to take on a sport like boxing. Explain what they hope to gain from the experience. Nothing in the world is solely black or white. Perhaps their rabbi can help them to find a way to take on the sport, while still remaining in their religious comfort zone.

*Image courtesy of arztsamui/

What is life? Fight!

Anatoly Roksman was born in Moscow in 1967. His family was poor, but well educated. His mother worked in a bookstore and his father was a very talented artist. Roksman also had a brother, who lost his life at a young age. Roksman never felt the poverty of his childhood. Roksman learned early in life that to be successful one must fight. But, he knew that shaking one’s fists without a target is pointless and a waste of time. Being a lover of the fight, Roksman had to find a positive outlet, which he found in the martial arts.
Roksman’s entrance into the world of martial arts began with Judo. When he was 8 years old, he enrolled in Judo lessons at a sports facility near his home, known as “Hammer and Sickle.” Boris Kornyushin coached him in Judo and Sambo, and helped him to develop proficiency in both, to the point where he could successfully compete. For the next ten years, Roksman competed and emerged victorious in Judo and Sambo matches, winning many titles and prizes. When he was 16, he entered the level of “master” and, until 18, fought numerous matches at the master level. All of these activities kept Roksman pretty busy, but he managed to find time to take up the sport of boxing, entering the ring to compete in section matches, or just casual play with friends in makeshift neighborhood gyms. He joined the army in 1982, with a strong record of competition and a coaching certificate.
The army recruiters immediately recognized Roksman’s expertise in fighting and steered him to the Seventh Guards Airborne Division. He was enrolled in a select school for training in reconnaissance missions. He graduated as a “senior intelligence officer.” This environment fit perfectly with his skills in the fighting arts.
Soon after arrival at his next assignment, Roksman began competing in the Sambo Open Division Championships. He finished every match in first place. As a member of the Seventh Guards Airborne Division boxing team, Roksman competed in the Airborne Forces of the USSR championships.
Anatoly Roksman’s specialty in the army was ARB—a technique of close combat fighting. He added to his arsenal of fighting arts the skill of Army melee and became champion of the Airborne Forces of the USSR in 1986 in the 85 kg category.
Roksman earned numerous awards of excellence during his distinguished career in the army, including: Warrior Athlete 1st degree, Parachutist-Excellence, Specialist 1st Class, and Guard Excellence AS, among others.
Roksman had every hope of leaving his army life and moving immediately into a successful business career. But his retirement coincided with a monumental event—the fall of the Soviet Union. At the same time Roksman was trying to build his new business life, his country was dealing with the political, social and economic ramifications of a wholesale regime shift. Roksman’s business had to take shape more slowly. Still, not deterred, Roksman’s patient and persistent building of his business foundation would prove to be one of the key elements of his future business success.  Anatoly Roksman became engaged in many business enterprises across the globe. Even though his major focus was now on building the corporate identity he wanted for himself, he never abandoned the sports he loved so much. He began studying and gaining skill in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Anatoly Roksman’s enthusiasm for the martial arts extends beyond personal satisfaction from his competitions. He believes that the same traits of discipline, self-assuredness and strength in character necessary to be a martial arts champion are what makes one a champion in the business world.
Roksman hopes to open a center where students can come and acquire the skills of self-defense and close combat fighting.
Roksman did not limit himself to physical sports competitions. As a child, he learned the complex game of chess with his father and he eventually became quite talented. Athletics and staying physically fit are important elements in the daily life of Roksman. Twice a day he makes time for weight training, running, swimming and boxing.
Roksman’s very busy life leaves him with little free time, but with what there is, he nurtures his soul by reading and art collection.
At the call of the heart
Anatoly Roksman has traveled many roads and succeeded in many areas of his life. But, he has never forgotten from where he came. An example is the World Congress of Russian-speaking Jews, an organization he founded and headed as vice-president. He sponsored many other projects of philanthropy with his colleagues, has a strong belief in Zionism and is a committed and generous supporter of Chabad. Roksman joined others in sponsoring a new Jewish community center in Berlin. The Center houses many components to benefit the community, including a yeshiva, computer center, synagogue, school and restaurant.
Citizen of the World
Roksman continues to direct the majority of his time and efforts to building success in his business ventures. His main endeavor over the last ten years, in cooperation with his business associates, has been RusMedia. This company serves the Russian-speaking community residing in Germany. Roksman is also actively engaged in other financial schemes around the world.
Martial arts training and sports competitions have given Anatoly Roksman a strong belief in self, as well as a world vision of unlimited potential for success. He is proficient in many languages including, of course, his native Russian, Hebrew, German, Italian and English. He has plans to learn Japanese, tour the world and strengthen his business acumen.