Comment: Germany pays a high price to Putin

German politics has hesitated too long with far-reaching opposition to Russia. This includes oil and gas embargoes. Now we are paying the price.

The question alone speaks volumes about how superficial the debate on Germany’s moral and political role in the war against Ukraine is: Should we shut down Putin’s gas supply? The leaders warn against the destruction of the “whole” economy, the unionists of mass unemployment and the government politicians who want to bet on prosperity. However, everyone is preparing for the opposite question: what will happen if Putin cuts off the gas supply to Germany?

Playing with fear fuels debate, regardless of how realistic one scenario or the other may be. The volume stifled the uncomfortable question of Germany’s actual responsibility in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The gas dispute distracts from the inglorious role played by German politics in international sanctions against Russia and military support for Ukraine.

What is Germany’s responsibility in Russia’s war against Ukraine?

When it comes to sanctions, the federal government is always the brakeman in the western community of states. Even the Kremlin’s cheap psychological warfare in the ruble dispute was enough to relieve the pressure: the ruble’s exchange rate is exactly the same as it was a year ago. Russia can trade in many places without losses.

German sanctions against the oligarchs? It didn’t even exist. Berlin has established only one working group, dynamically labeled as a “Task Force”. Especially since the idea that powerful economic tsars are in control of politics in Russia is a misconception from a very Western point of view. The wealth of the oligarchs depends on Putin’s grace and not vice versa.

Germany could offer more resistance to Putin

The gas dispute obscures the fact that Germany could do much more to resist Putin. Instead of taking place in a few months, an immediate oil embargo would be much more painful for Russia than for the economy and domestic society. Private oil companies are far more advanced here than the federal government and have already terminated many contracts.

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The SPD in particular is grappling with its responsibilities. German Social Democracy, so proud of its policy of peace and detente, has bloodied hands with dismay, having used its policy to financially arm one of the greatest criminals of the century. Moreover, one who openly justifies a war of aggression racially and nationalistically.

Russian oil embargo as an effective tool against Putin

Now many in the SPD admit naivety and see themselves deceived by Putin. But not only the US, but also almost all EU partners urgently warned German politicians about the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Even before the project, Germany’s dependence on Russian energy had increased significantly since Gerhard Schröder was Chancellor. Cheap oil and gas should make the high electricity costs of the energy transition bearable for industry.

This policy has found support not only in the SPD but also in the Union. Objections from his own security politicians, such as foreign CDU politician Norbert Röttgen, were dismissed in his party with the kindergarten attitude that nobody likes pundits.

Putin’s plan worked. The price of cheap gas is paid by the Ukrainian people with immeasurable suffering and also by the thousands of young Russians who were burned by Putin at the front. Before that, Putin bombed the rubble cities of Syria and forced millions of people to flee. One wonders how much German money was already in the cynical test of the heavily armed Russian army that triggered the 2016 refugee crisis. Putin’s gas bill is very expensive for Germany.

All information about the escalation can be found at any time in our live blog about the war in Ukraine.

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