Is Germany closer to Russia than the West? Nord Stream II and Iran count more

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin had met again in Sochi last year. Then, the Chancellor had also discussed international crises with the Russian President. 2 May 2017. Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

Last Friday, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, rushed to Sochi, the Black Sea seaside Russian resort to meet Vladimir Putin. It was the first visit by a Western leader to meet him at home, after his fourth inauguration on 7 May as President of the vast country, this time for six more years. Looking through a magnifying glass, into what it was reported from their meetings and the joint Press conference, Germany has now much more in common with Russia than with the United States. Let’s take one thing at a time.

The German media were very timid in observing that fact, while the major Western news agencies didn’t pay much attention to the meeting and presented it as a Putin effort to divide the West. This last allegation is not far from the truth. However, there are many more important issues bonding Germany and Russia than what has been discussed in front of the cameras in Sochi. Understandably, Merkel and Putin paid attention to refrain publicly from going deep into the joint interests which were on the table of their meetings.

What was discussed

Let’s count the issues reportedly discussed. The weightiest must have being the issues with great economic and strategic content. Most important of them could be the construction of a second pipeline, transporting Russian natural gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, sidestepping the Ukrainian routes. The other one may be the US blockade and the economic sanctions against Iran, a country which interests both Russia and Germany for economic and strategic reasons.

Then, there were two more subjects the two leaders said they discussed. It’s about Syria and Ukraine. In both cases, Moscow has vital and far reaching interests which Berlin didn’t try to counter. At the same time, Germany, following a traditional pragmatist Teutonic foreign policy, looks to questions related to the two war torn countries in a kind of principles platform; democracy, human rights, etc…

In both cases though, when there was a question of finally protecting Germany from more flows of refugees – from Ukraine and Syria – Berlin followed quite a hard line policy closing borders and buying coverage from Turkey. Ankara is paid €3+3 billion by the European Union under the insistence of Berlin, in order to retain the Syrian refugees on her soil, blocking them from reaching Europe.

German pragmatism

As every student of first year of politics knows, international relations are a callous and coolly calculated game. So, Germany, being an old time (for three centuries) expert in that, addressed the two issues paying attention not to directly oppose Russia and of course protecting her own interests.

In any case Berlin has much more significant interests in Ukraine than in Syria. So, in the latter case Merkel only hypocritically appeared as being interested about the rights of the Syrian refugees, to return one day to their property…if it still stands. In Ukraine, the other ongoing civil war involving the US controlled Kiev, and the rebels of the Eastern provinces backed by Russia, Merkel made a real gift to Putin.

What counts more

She agreed with him that the problem of Eastern Ukraine could be solved by asking the UN to send a Peacekeeping force there. Obviously, such a force would stand between the two sides, actually recognizing the rights of the rebels and through them, indirectly, the rights of Moscow on Ukrainian lands in the East. And this, despite the fact that back in March 2014 Berlin had made a big fuss, about the cunning annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula to Russia. In this way, Merkel is more or less giving absolution to Putin for his aggressive policies against Ukraine. Without starting a discussion about who was right and wrong in the Ukrainian civil war, Merkel was seen last Friday altogether changing her stance vis-à-vis Russia, coming close to Moscow’s positions.

Passing to the more important issues from the German perspective, which are the deliveries of cheap Russian natural gas and the business with Iran, Berlin and Moscow jointly endeavored in building barricades against Donald Trump’s decisions. Under the instructions of the President of ‘America First’, Washington has declared the US will do whatever it can, to block the construction of the Nord Stream II (the second pipeline transporting Russian natural gas to Germany).

Caspian Sea trade out of touch

By the same token, Trump has personally ostracized Iran from the world markets, aiming to obstruct the far and wide interests Germany and Russia have in this country. Actually, Berlin is the most negatively affected European capital in this affair, while Russia can continue her economic and other dealings with Iran over the Caspian Sea, untouched by Trump’s actions.

The US sanctions on Iran are to affect all the German multinationals doing or planning business and investments in Iran, which at the same having a presence in the US markets. The American authorities can make them leave Iran altogether, on the real threats of high fines and penal prosecution. Actually, many iconic German names like BMW, WV, Mercedes, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and others, have already said they will comply with the American sanctions.

The industrious Teutons

These developments come to a great despair for the German political and business leadership, given their well known cathexis for money and business. What must have also upset the Germans is that the French President Emmanuel Macron has already said the EU won’t fight a trade fight with the US about Iran. He has also loudly acknowledged that the most important European companies have already withdrawing from that country, so no need to fight a lost cause.

There are hundreds of German medium and small businesses though, which export or do business in Iran. Unlike their big compatriots they don’t have exposure to the US and are preparing to continue dealing with Iran. So, in the whole picture, the German losses in Iran caused by Washington will be incalculable. Germany is the largest European economic partner of the Islamic Republic.

Strong common interests

Let’s sum up then, after the Sochi meeting, what divides and what bonds Germany and Russia. As mentioned above, Merkel didn’t express a vivid interest about what Russia is doing in Syria. True, Berlin won’t gain or lose much, whoever wins the day in Syria. So, why not be in it with Moscow? As for Ukraine, her only real interest was to convince Putin to do what it takes to soothe Kiev’s fierce opposition to the construction of Nord Stream II. Ukraine fears losing the hefty transit rights from the Russian natural gas being currently delivered to Western Europe, through pipelines on her soil.

According to Handelsblatt, the prestigious German business news group, “Mr. Putin underlined that he was willing to continue to pipe gas through Ukraine and negotiate with Kiev on the conditions for continuing to use the country as a transit route”. This must have been a great achievement for Merkel, given the well known Putin’s contempt for the US controlled rulers of Kiev. The Russian softening towards Kiev greatly helps Germany to convince the rest of the western powers about the need for the Nord Stream II pipeline. France and Britain are seriously concerned about the future of Ukraine, not to be economically harmed from the construction of the Nord Stream II, and become easy prey for Moscow.

Definitely closer to Moscow

So, with the Syrian and Ukrainian questions settled between Merkel and Putin, the two must have felt very close, when it came to the American aggression against Iran and the Nord Stream II. Washington has said it will use all diplomatic means to obstruct the construction of the new gas pipeline, and can even go as far as imposing sanctions on the companies and the people engaged in the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline. This last threat can effectively overturn the entire €9.5 billion project. No wonder then, if Merkel now feels closer to Putin. She cannot either forget the chilly experiences of her two meetings with Trump. Not to forget, Trump has asked Germany to pay tens of billions to NATO and the US, for not spending every year 2% of her GDP on armaments, preferably made in USA.

All in all, if one also takes into account the facts that Macron seems already, if not siding, at least not fighting the US on the ostracization of Iran, neither is he seen supporting Nord Stream II , it won’t be an exaggeration to say, Germany is today closer to Russia than the West.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

We generate 125,000 jumbo jets worth of e-waste every year. Here’s how we can tackle the problem

Deal agreed to protect consumers against misleading and unfair practices

Jellyfish are taking over the world – and climate change could be to blame

EU Commission: Germany can make Eurozone grow again just by helping itself

Ocean life faces ‘onslaught of threats’ from human activity, but tools exist to save it

Brussels wins game and match in Ukraine no matter the electoral results

Is Data Privacy really safe seen through Commissioner’s PRISM?

Taking fast road to ‘e-mobility’ central to a sustainable future: COP24

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

Vĕra Jourová, European Commissioner in charge of Justice

The New EU-US “Shield” for data privacy is full of holes

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) on the arrest of Turkish Medical Association leaders

Crackdown on Christians in Eritrea spurs UN expert to press Government ‘to live up to its international commitments’

It’s not just the protests. Here’s how young people are helping the planet

UN experts report: Business ‘dragging its feet’ on human rights worldwide

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

European creativity and digital economy are drowning in a copyright swamp

A Sting Exclusive: “The EU Cybersecurity Act for a more secure and cyber-resilient European Digital Single Market”, by EU Commissioner Gabriel

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

MEPs react to breaches of human rights in Moldova, Burundi and Somalia

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Changing the Face of Europe

Norway’s electric car market has overtaken traditional vehicle sales

Families deserve answers when loved ones go missing in conflict: Security Council adopts historic resolution

Modern farming is harming the planet. Tech-driven permaculture could heal it

If you live in a big city you already smoke every day

Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

We can save the Earth. Here’s how

Afghanistan: top UN official denounces ‘extreme’ suffering of civilians in Ghazni

Righting a wrong: UN Fund helps thousands of sex abuse survivors rebuild their lives

The West castigates Turkey’s Erdogan for the ruthless political cleansing

How leaders can use ‘agile governance’ to drive tech and win trust

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: UNESCO ready to help after Notre Dame fire, and updates on Libya, Nicaragua, and the Cyclone Idai response

ECB describes in detail how it exploits the poor

The US calls off globalization, targets Germany. Paris offer to Berlin comes at a cost

Better training ‘a necessary and strategic investment’ in peacekeeping that saves lives: Guterres

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

What makes America the world’s most competitive economy?

More than one billion people do not have access to electricity. What will it take to get them connected?

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

This Chinese megacity is building a giant waste-to-energy plant

European Youth Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: European Youth Unemployment

“Decisions taken in the coming weeks will shape Europe’s experience of the internet”, Joe Mcnamee from EDRi says live from European Business Summit 2015

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

EU’s new environmental policy on biofuels impacts both the environment and the European citizen

Two-thirds of global drug deaths now from opioids: UN drugs report

China invites the EU to a joint endeavor for free trade and order in the world

The US repelled EU proposals on common rules for banks

Eurozone hasn’t escaped the deflation danger

Despite violence, ‘tremendous hunger’ for peace in Afghanistan: top UN official

Does the West play the Syrian game in Egypt?

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

Take-home pay growing at lowest level since 2008, as gender-gap persists: UN labour agency

Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming

G20 starts to tackle inequality

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

Obama, Crimea and the TTIP pill

GSMA Mobile 360 Series –Digital Societies, in association with The European Sting

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s