Relations between Russia and the West continue to spiral down the drain, making Germany key to helping quell an ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
As we’ve covered previously, tensions between the West (specifically NATO) and Russia are worse than at any other point following the Cold War–a breakdown in relations that has complicated an already volatile situation in Ukraine.
But, what makes Germany and Merkel so valuable?
Merkel has risen as a voice of diplomacy
In the midst of U.S. talks on arming Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists, Merkel has spoken out as a voice of diplomacy.
In a Munich security conference, the German Chancellor stated that arming Ukraine against separatists will only lead to an escalation of a conflict which has already taken the lives of over 5,000 people.
- While other western powers mull over military means of ending the crisis in Ukraine, Germany and Merkel have stayed solid on a diplomatic approach
- Unlike President Obama, Merkel is not under pressure by officials to intervene militarily in Ukraine
- Merkel has put forth ideas of her own as to how to help stop the crisis–like tightening the border between Russia and Ukraine
Germany is in a key foreign relations position
Unlike the already tarnished relations between Russia and the U.S., Germany is considered by Russian leaders to be non-aggressive.
This has put Germany in a unique position to facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine–talks which are already underway now.
- According to The Council on Foreign Relations, Germany’s relations with Russia are far and away the best out of other NATO member-states
- Merkel and Putin have spoken more than 40 times in the past year
- Since relations between Germany and China are also developed, Germany may also be able to sway China into a tougher position on Russia
Germany is in a unique economic position to influence Russia’s position on Ukraine
Though, so far, sanctions on Russia have had little effect on events in Ukraine, Germany’s importance in maintaining economic pressure still remains an integral part of Europe’s stance.
- Russia supplies Germany with 40 percent of its natural gas, meaning that the economic ties between the two are significant enough to bargain with
- Trade between the two countries was worth about 76 billion euros in 2013
- Germany exports about $3 billion more to Russia than the other way around