Germany’s Reaction To The Invasion Of Ukraine

Germany’s reluctance to take on a more active role in the conflict in Ukraine has become an issue of public debate. In the latest episode of FeniksPod’s Atlantic Series, Dr. Mehmet Yegin spoke with Dr. Nele Marianne Ewers-Peters from Leuphana University of Lueneburg. Dr. Evers-Peters discussed Germany’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact it has had on NATO-EU relations.

Germany’s Reaction To The Invasion Of Ukraine

In the latest episode of FeniksPod’s Atlantic Series, Dr. Ewers-Peters contended that “Germany’s reaction [to the invasion of Ukraine] can be seen as very cautious and reserved. This reflects Germany’s foreign policy in general”. She also argued that Germany’s approach has been somewhat naïve from the beginning as Berlin acts as though relations with Russia will be normalized in the near future.

Dr. Evers-Peters went on to point out that Germany is a difficult NATO ally in the field of security and defense as it places a number of restrictions on the deployment of troops and shipping of weapons to conflict regions. Speaking on Germany’s status as a heavyweight in the EU and NATO, Dr. Ewers-Peters argued that “Germany is a balancer between the EU and NATO when it comes to confrontation between the two organizations. But Germany’s role as a balancer was crushed in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Dr. Ewers-Peters underlined the importance of the US and Russia for Germany and the difficulty that Berlin is having in balancing relations. “Both the US and Russia have played a major role in German history. Both countries signed the Two Plus Four Treaty that led to German unification. So, Germany is grateful to both countries for their support of unification. On the one side, Germany is dependent on Russian oil and gas supplies, so it cannot directly sanction Russia. Instead, it has to think first of the impact that this could have on its economy. On the other side, Germany shares norms and values with the US and still wants Washington to be engaged in Europe”, Dr. Ewers-Peters noted.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought the EU and NATO closer, but problems still linger. Dr. Ewers-Peters explained that “the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not the first trigger of closer EU-NATO cooperation. Rather, the fight in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 have already impacted coordination between the two organizations. Both have shared their next steps with each other and have participated in each other’s high-level meetings. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy joins NATO meetings and the NATO Secretary General attends EU meetings.”

“Russia’s more recent invasion of Ukraine gave NATO and the EU a new reason to cooperate more closely. Interestingly, two EU member states who are not members of NATO [Finland and Sweden] are now seeking membership in the defensive alliance. Both sides agree to coordinate their response and create a deterrence”, Dr. Ewers-Peters continued.

Dr. Ewers-Peters also warned against losing sight of lingering challenges existent in EU-NATO relations. She underlined that “there are a couple of obstacles that have not gone away. There is the Cyprus problem for example, and some members of the EU and NATO still don’t get along. There is also a divergence of threat perceptions both within and between the EU and NATO. Moreover, looking at the recent NATO report from last year, the EU was not mentioned very often. That raises questions of how important NATO will find the EU in the future.”

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