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Judy Asks: Is Germany Damaging Europe’s Position on Ukraine?

Carnegie Europe
Foto: NATO

Germany’s refusal to provide military assistance to Ukraine has baffled many of its European and NATO allies. If Berlin does not adopt a bolder, unambiguous stance toward Russia, it will undermine the West’s deterrence efforts. Read Secretary General Kate Hansen Bundt's, and 17 other experts' takes.

You can read all the answers on Carnegie Europe's website: https://carnegieeurope.eu/stra...

Kate Hansen Bundt, Secretary General of the Norwegian Atlantic Committee

Seen from Moscow, Germany is the weakest link in Europe’s attempt to stand up to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Berlin is vulnerable when it comes to Russia for several reasons.

Firstly, Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas both for heating and electricity generation after closing its own nuclear power plants and promising to phase out coal by 2030. For Europe’s industrial powerhouse, Nord Stream 2 might be the only answer how to square the energy circle in the foreseeable future. The Social Democratic Party’s (SPD’s) new Secretary General Kevin Kühnert left little doubt when he recently urged to forget the opposition to the pipeline.

Secondly, Germany is Europe’s largest exporter and will suffer most from any additional trade sanctions.

Thirdly, there is a strong positive view of Russia in the German population and there are disagreements between the coalition partners in the new government, and even within the SPD and the Greens, on how to deal with Russia, the United States, and military power as such.

Fourthly, Germany has a weak national defense capability and a strong pacifist opinion with no appetite of spending the committed 2 percent of GDP on defense pledged at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.

All these reasons tie into the fifth and final reason: Germany’s 20th century history and the slogan “never again.” While understandable, the German anti-war attitude might end up undermining a united transatlantic deterrence that would prevent future wars in Europe.