Germany Flip Flops on Russia Yet Again

Politicians in today’s democracies are incessantly under pressure from an ignorant, irresponsibly egocentric and moralistic media to strike colourful, melodramatic poses on issues of foreign policy. The problem comes when the journalists, with the attention span of a five year old, have disappeared down to the pub, drowning the business of the day in drink, and the statesmen are then asked to put their money where their mouth is. It is the diplomats who are left with the thankless task of equating the reality of day to day foreign relations with sustaining the moral high ground seized inconsistently at unexpected moments by self-serving leaders.

Germany marched in unison up onto the moral high ground over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Naval’ny and everyone in Berlin felt really good about it. Then Germany came under pressure to do something other than just offer medical aid. The question was how exactly – in the manner of the Grand Old Duke of York – it was going to march all the way down again without appearing to do so.

At this delicate point the German Chancellor thought it sensible to evade the entire issue of responsibility for any disruption in real policy that would clearly upset those she answers to – German industry, vitally interested in the Russian market, indeed almost any market at almost any price – by dumping it into the lap of the EU, which has long been a flimsy fig leaf for the relentless pursuit of the German self-interest at everyone else’s expense and can usually be relied upon to elevate anything on matters of foreign policy into a vaporous cloud of high flown rhetoric devoid of real substance. Brussels is the kind of place where states with a population not much larger than the seaside resort of Brighton, or, indeed its lesser neighbour, sunny Worthing, can pretend to be global players. Why else would anyone allow a failed Luxembourg politician to run the European Commission for so long?

But what goes around, comes around, and the pressure has renewed for some kind of decisive action. If all this game playing took place entirely behind a rigid steel wall of top secrecy, as it once used to be in the Concert of Europe, it would matter less. But it is not. The game is played out on stage in the embarrassing public spotlight. So the hapless players are seen as the amateurs they are – scarcely world class – particularly by the theatre critics. The Russians are not idiots. They do not much appreciate amateur dramatics. Commentary on the current state of play in German Russia policy is inevitably one of cynical dismissal that anything serious can be expected in the way of substantial change from people such as these.

See the commentary, “Germany has turned out to be the weak link in the chain of the new anti-Russian coalition”, in hardline Vzglyad ru:

Германия оказалась слабым звеном новой антироссийской коалиции

В антироссийском тандеме Франция – Германия немцы оказались более слабым звеном10  8 октября 2020, 22:20
Фото: Jacques Witt/Pool/ABACAPRESS/Reuters
Текст: Наталья Макарова,
Ирина Яровая,
Михаил Мошки