German spinelessness

A blog post discusses the increasingly divergent attitudes between Germany and America over how to deal with Russia. It begins, “John Kerry expressed confidence that there was broad international support for imposing tough economic sanctions on Russia unless it withdrew its forces from Ukraine. It took barely a day for a vital American ally to say that it would pursue a different approach — and for evidence to emerge that a second one was likely to break with the Obama administration as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful figures in the European Union, signaled Monday that she wanted to hold off on sanctions while pursuing a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis, not one based on the asset freezes, visa bans, and other punitive measures Kerry outlined during his appearance on “Meet the Press.” Merkel’s government instead favours direct talks with Moscow and the deployment of international monitors”.

Merkel would say this as Germany has close ties to Gazprom with many high profile Germans, including former Chancellor Gerhard Schorder, working for the “company”.

The report adds that “In a second potential blow to the Obama administration, the BBC reported that a senior British official was photographed holding a document stating that London ‘should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial centre to Russians.’ If the document is authentic, it would mean that the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron, a close U.S. ally, opposed the administration’s call for economic sanctions on Russia. Some of that could come from self-interest — wealthy Russians own some of London’s most expensive residential properties and are thought to have hundreds of billions of pounds stashed away in British financial institutions — but a Cameron defection would be a major setback for the White House”. Similarly, this shows Cameron’s spinelessness in dealing with Russia, putting the interests of Russian gangsters and City traders over what is right and just.

The article goes on to mention “Merkel had initially seemed to be moving in step with the administration. Berlin joined the United States and other Western powers in agreeing to skip the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi to show anger at Russian President Vladimir Putin. During a phone call with President Obama, Merkel reportedly said that Putin was ‘out of touch with reality.’ But Merkel has been reluctant to impose sanctions on the grounds that it would undermine her own efforts to walk Putin back from the brink. Steffen Seibert, her spokesman, said the Merkel government was ‘entirely focused on bringing about a political process … all of us know that it’s the only reasonable way out of this crisis.'”

The writers mentions that “The differences of opinion between Washington and Berlin suggest that the Obama administration will have a hard time persuading friendly governments to impose sanctions on Russia, a major trading partner. Russia also supplies much of Europe with natural gas, and many E.U. countries worry that Moscow would cut or curtail gas sales if they imposed punitive measures because of Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Merkel began her diplomatic push Sunday during a phone call with Putin. The two leaders, aides said later, agreed to explore the possibility of establishing an international contact group to coordinate negotiations over Ukraine’s fate as well as a monitoring group from the OSCE. Russia has said it sent troops into Crimea to protect Russian-speaking citizens from unspecified forms of violence and intimidation on the part of supporters of the new pro-Western government in Kiev”.

It adds, “Meeting in Brussels Monday, E.U. ministers joined the United States in denouncing Russia’s incursion into Ukraine as “acts of aggression” that violate international law and the U.N. charter. The Europeans threatened to consider suspending bilateral talks on visas and consider unspecified measures if Russia fails to “de-escalate.” The European leaders stopped short of imposing any kind of sanctions on Moscow or on top Russian officials or businessmen. Western diplomats, however, said the statement by the European ministers was tougher than they had anticipated, reflecting growing concern by Eastern European governments that Russia’s action in Ukraine also threatens their security. On Monday, Poland requested a NATO meeting under Article 4 of the NATO charter, which is invoked when a member of the organization perceives a threat to its security”.

It ends, “Until now, Moscow has cited a request for Russian military support from Crimea’s new pro-Russian prime minister, Sergei Aksyonov, as the basis for its invasion. But the March 1 letter from Yanukovych has presented the Russian leader with a possible pretext for pushing his military advance even beyond the pro-Russian peninsula of Crimea, though Churkin said no decision had yet been made. Churkin’s address to the council prompted a blistering response from the United States and the council’s European powers, who compared Russia’s intervention in Crimea to the Soviet Union’s Cold War invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia”.

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4 Responses to “German spinelessness”

  1. No consequences? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] almost automatically translates into a fall in real incomes”. Not only that, but if ever Europe decides when to agree on economic sanctions it would destroy what remains of the Russia economy. Some have speculated that […]

  2. “Energy security will loom larger than ever” | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] writes that “Upon leaving office, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder became the champion of Nord Stream, a pipeline under the Baltic that carries Russian gas directly […]

  3. The danger of sanctions | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] she notes that even “European support for sanctions is also growing in the face of Russian intransigence. After moving troops into Crimea nearly two […]

  4. Too cautious? | Order and Tradition Says:

    […] The problem with these examples is that, firstly with the case of Egypt, Sisi did America a favour in removing Morsi but this is naturally not a long term solution either for Egypt or America. If it is a choice between Morsi and the generals realism dictates that the generals should recieve backing. Sanger then cites the case of Ukraine and Russia. He is right that the economic route is the most painful for Putin but American sanctions will have little effect. His quoting of Merkel is unhelpful, she, and the rest of Europe are mired not only in a Kantian bubble but are unable to formulate a real policy of deterrence. America can only do so much economically to Russia, if Europe wants to stand firm on Putin, Germany must act and not just speak. […]

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