The Russian-German Relationship Is in Free Fall

    Lyle J. Goldstein

    Security, Europe

    German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen meets soldiers during a visit to Kaserne Hochstaufen (mountain infantry military barracks) in Bad Reichenhall, southern German

    The vital Germany-Russia relationship is badly adrift and European security is imperiled as a result.

    There are numerous tensions roiling U.S.-German relations at present, not least the oft-mentioned lack of personal chemistry and contrasting leadership styles among the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump. Foremost now on the agenda, of course, is the extremely tricky issue of whether Germany can help to save what’s left of the Iran nuclear agreement after the detrimental and impulsive U.S. decision to withdraw. Also on the U.S.-German agenda, let’s not forget the saga of Volkswagen brazenly violating U.S. emissions standards that have cost the company billions. Trade tensions have emerged in an unprecedented way. And then there is, of course, the fact that Germany’s defense spending remains well under the NATO standard of 2 percent and seems unlikely to reach that threshold in the near future, despite more and more urgent American appeals. In addition, there is the issue of Nordstream 2, a proposed second pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The pipeline has been strongly opposed by the United States and other countries that are anxious about Moscow’s energy clout and how that leverage could impact European security.

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