When the AfD burst onto the scene in 2017 with a decisively nationalist and populist campaign

When the AfD burst onto the scene in 2017 with a decisively nationalist and populist campaign, it managed to gain 12.6% of the vote, becoming the largest opposition party in the Bundestag. That the AfD opted for a pro-Russian course shortly after its inception is evidenced by a foreign policy position paper submitted by the party’s co-leader, Alexander Gauland, in 2013 in which he revamped elements of Otto von Bismarck’s appeasement policy toward Russia. In order to forestall a two-front war, Bismarck had concluded in 1897 a secret neutrality agreement with Russia (the so-called reinsurance treaty), which provided that each party would remain neutral if the other became involved in a war with a third power, except in the event that Germany attacked France or Russia the Habsburg empire. Strategic partnership with Russia is a pillar of the current party program: ‘For the AfD, a relaxation of relations with Russia is a prerequisite for lasting peace in Europe. It is in Germany’s interest to include Russia in an overall political security structure without disregarding our own interests and those of our allies. The AfD advocates the termination of the sanctions policy. Economic cooperation with Russia should rather be expanded.’