Image by Boban Markovic
“It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us. Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands, that’s the task of the future.” These were the words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel given during a speech last week, reported AFP. This admission of reality from the leader of a country that has only four fighter jets that work, seems to be an obvious statement.
However, you must take into account the German view of the world, in order to truly understand the statement’s ramifications.
Even after American President Donald Trump berated NATO members for not pulling their own weight in defending themselves, Germany still is a decade away from reaching the 2% of GDP goal set by NATO for member to spend on their own protection. The country announced recently that although it has increased spending on its military, there is no way it will reach the target until the late 2020s, if ever. Currently Germany is reported to have only approximately 40 combat aircraft flying and less than ten fighter jets operational.
These facts are instructive as to Germany’s position on the new Nord Stream II pipeline that will bring cheap Russian gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea. NATO members in the area are concerned the project will increase Western dependence on Russian gas and harm energy security. Germany doesn’t care. They just want the cheap gas.
“I used the opportunity to point out that the German government (…) is of the view that this is, in the first place, a commercial project, a project of private industry, but I took note of the fact that there is a need for further information, for further discussion in that regard,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently after Baltic states complained about the security aspects of the project.
“To put it mildly, we have a difference in opinions, – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said. – We really consider this project not very much in line with European energy policy and definitely priorities,” reported The Baltic Times.
Ukraine, still locked in a deadly conflict in Donbass with Russia-supported separatists, also declared to Germany it’s displeasure with Nord Stream II, and the effect it will have on lessening gas transit revenue to Kyiv.
“We want to make sure that the framework conditions for this project are optimized to such an extent that no need for serious political debate will be there,” the German minister added.
If Minister Maas meant these words to give comfort toe those facing Russia pressure, I’m not sure it worked.