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Germany must choose between Russia or NATO

Germany must choose between Russia or NATO

Is Germany’s huge investment in renewing its military capable of withstanding the Russian tide? Is German energy security under threat because of the current crisis between Russia and NATO, and does Germany need to clarify its stance?

The war in Ukraine made Germany choose to be the leader of Europe in NATO and face Russia or hold still to reduce the economic downfall that would occur. According to the ex-Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s trade strategy with Russia, Germany, and Russia has deep economic ties. As said by the head of the European Council on Foreign relations’ Jana Puglierin, “Merkel, too, believed that through trade you could bind Russia into a multilateral system, and thus a rules-based order. Even after 2014-2015, when the alarm bells were ringing, she compartmentalised the problem. She simply didn’t turn it into a political issue.”[i][AT1] 

The Nord Stream gas pipeline is now more political than economic. This addiction to Russian gas gave Germany a checkmate moment before announcing its 100 billion Euros investment in upgrading its military.[ii] Finance Minister Christian Lindner, from the Free Democrats, which is business-oriented and does not support significant government expenditure, defended this by saying it is a historical responsibility.[iii] Germany picked the option it did not want to choose, a checkmate moment. When you force your rival to make a step, they are not planning. After this military renewal announcement by Germany, now, the Ukraine war is in a new phase. Moreover, Nord Stream II was a card in the hands of President Biden towards Russia and stated that if Russia invades Ukraine “again” the project would be halted before the beginning of the invasion.[iv][AT2] 

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on the first day of this month, “I’m not Kaiser Wilhelm!”[v] The previous statement is evidence of the checkmate moment that occurred earlier this year and the huge investment in upgrading the military. This means that the Chancellor was very stressed about the position of Germany at the end of the European peace order after Russia’s move to invade Ukraine. Incidentally, Scholz also said a very critical sentence that might explain Germany’s indecisive stance, “There must be no nuclear war…The consequences of a mistake would be dramatic.”[vi]

Concerning the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and discussing the German position and Russia from the perspective of NATO. President Macron, in November 2019, said that NATO is brain dead.[vii] However, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO is more united and essential today, and its purpose has been resurrected.[viii] NATO units were sent to East Europe with the Russian military build-up at the border of Ukraine[ix] as preparedness is important for warfare. In addition, the NATO battalions were doubled in the NATO-aligned countries bordering Russia, such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Baltic States.[x] With most of the units being stationed in the Republic of Poland.[xi] It is paramount to mention that Ukraine is not a NATO member.

Germany was also against the idea of giving membership to Ukraine due to not provoking the Russians.[xii] So, Ukraine is not a NATO member, not only because Germany disagreed, but because not all the NATO members agreed to the proposal.[xiii] Under those circumstances, Chancellor Scholz is not afraid of a nuclear war but afraid that the gas supply from Russia might stop. Now, let us discuss the gas issue and what Germany can do to prepare for such a reality.

Germany’s energy future is very dependent on the Russian gas supply, but Germany has a greenhouse-gas neutrality plan aimed for 2050.[xiv] At the end of February 2022, Germany changed the target date to 2035 to quickly lose its dependence on gas.[xv] Although this is an ambitious move, it needs a lot of time. A better option is relying on the EastMed gas pipeline to begin its operations in 2025.[xvi] Moreover, Germany needs gas through a pipeline because Liquified Natural Gas exports from faraway countries are a logistical nightmare.

Finally, the two questions at the beginning of the article need to be answered. Firstly, is Germany’s massive investment in renewing its military capable of withstanding the Russian tide? Germany is part of NATO and is the most substantial power in the European Union. The only issue is that sources suggest that the amount of investment is massive, and Germany has been a peaceful country for a long time. It can be a bit hard to start up the engine of the German military.

Secondly, is German energy security under threat because of the current crisis between Russia and NATO, and does Germany need to clarify its stance? Germany is addicted to Russian gas and must do all it can to find a new source. Due to this, Russia can blackmail the European Union as much as possible as it is taking an aggressive stance and is more predictable than in the past. The EastMed pipeline from the Mediterranean and Iraqi Kurdish gas through Turkey are good sources.

REFERENCES


[i] Philip Oltermann, “Germany agonises over Merkel’s legacy: did she hand too much power to Putin?” Theguardian.com. The United Kingdom, March 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/05/germany-angela-merkel-power-to-vladimir-putin-russia. (accessed June 9, 2022).

[ii] Laurenz Gehrke “Germany approves constitutional change to boost military,” Politico.eu. United States of America, June 3, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-pass-constitutional-change-to-ramp-up-military-amid-ukraine-russia-war/.  (accessed June 9, 2022).

[iii] Ibid, 2.

[iv] “Statement by President Biden on Nord Stream 2,” Whitehouse.gov. The United States of America, February 23, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/02/23/statement-by-president-biden-on-nord-stream-2/. (accessed July 2, 2022).

[v] Matthew Karnitschnig, “Olaf Scholz’s Kaiser complex leaves Ukraine in the lurch,” Politico.eu. United States of America, June 1, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/olaf-scholz-kaiser-complex-ukraine-lurch/. (accessed June 9, 2022).

[vi] Matthew Karnitschnig, “Olaf Scholz’s Kaiser complex leaves Ukraine in the lurch,” Politico.eu. United States of America, June 1, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/olaf-scholz-kaiser-complex-ukraine-lurch/. (accessed June 9, 2022).

[vii] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[viii] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[ix] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[x] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[xi] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[xii] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[xiii] Tom Lindsay, interview with Ivo H. Daalder, Council on Foreign Relations, podcast audio, April 12, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/future-nato-ivo-h-daalder.

[xiv] Amy Delfs and Vanessa Dezem, “Germany Brings Forward Goal of 100% Renewable Energy to 2035,” Bnnbloomberg. Bell Media and Bloomberg Media, February 28, 2022, https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/germany-brings-forward-goal-of-100-renewable-energy-to-20351.1729998#:~:text=Germany%20Brings%20Forward%20Goal%20of%20100%25%20Renewable%20Energy%20to%202035,Arne%20Delfs%20and&text=(Bloomberg)%20%2D%2D%20The%20German%20government,completely%20harvested%20from%20renewable%20sources. (accessed June 9, 2022).

[xv] Ibid, 15.

[xvi] Emera, ” Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline Project,” June 6, 2022, https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/projects/eastern-mediterranean-pipeline-project/. (accessed July 2, 2022).


 [AT1]The errors here are from the quote itself

 [AT2]The Nord Stream II US part

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