Point of View

Germany on Russia. Yes to links, no to rapprochement

The German media have been correctly describing the atmosphere between the Chancellor's Office and the Kremlin as the chilliest in years. Various factors have laid bare the fact that the strategic partnership between Germany and Russia is at best currently undergoing a 'technical pause’: the underwhelming outcomes of the German-Russian intergovernmental consultations in the autumn of 2012 and of Chancellor Merkel's meeting with President Putin during the Hanover fair in the spring of 2013, as well as the way in which the EU dealt with the Cyprus debt issue and, finally, the support that Germany has extended to the anti-presidential protests in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the priorities of Germany's foreign and economic policy have changed considerably, not only as a result of the eurozone crisis, but also, even more importantly, because the attention of German business and politics has been shifting to the so-called neue Gestaltungsmächte, or new regional powers. German politicians increasingly believe that Russia should not be offered new methods or mechanisms of co-operation. Firstly, because the existing ones have not been fully utilised, and secondly, because Germany at this stage seems to have no idea of what the long-term strategy of co-operation with Putin's Russia should be.