September 22, 2016
Putin's friends in Berlin
We sometimes ask ourselves: would Germany honour a Nato Article 5 pledge if Russia were to invade any of the three Baltic states? Angela Merkel probably would be inclined to honour the treaty commitment, but would the Bundestag agree after the 2017 elections? The SPD would almost certainly not sign on to this, nor would the Left Party or the AfD. The Greens might not either. Public opinion in Germany is unequivocal on this hypothetical issue. The Germans would not support military action (one thing they have in common with Donald Trump, who does not care much about article 5 either).
An article in Frankfurter Allgemeine on Sigmar Gabriel's upcoming visit to Moscow underlines just how close German leaders (other than Merkel) are to Putin. Gabriel is quoted as saying that it was beyond his comprehension that relations between Russia and Germany have deteriorated so much since 2000. We should remind him that a few events have intruded since. Gabriel also reiterated his personal view that sanctions against Russia should be phased out even if the Minsk conditions have not been fully met. The article noted that all recent German visitors to Moscow had conveniently failed to address Ukraine and Crimea in an attempt to court favour with Putin.