Three ways in which Germany has changed its policy on Ukraine over past week

Contact Counsellor

Three ways in which Germany has changed its policy on Ukraine over past week

  • There are at least three major decisions where Berlin has clearly marked a sharp reversal of its earlier stated positions.
  • Largely to accommodate the growing pressure from the allies as Russia moves its offensive deeper into Ukraine.
  • Germany’s coming on board has been a central factor in the evolving united western front against Moscow — both on economic sanctions and the other punitive measures.

Turnaround on the SWIFT ban proposal

  • The US and EU moved to partially cut off a number of Russian banks from the main international payment gateway, SWIFT, alongside a freeze on the assets of Russia’s central bank.
  • Berlin had been reluctant to support other EU countries in banning Russia from the SWIFT financial system because it believed that by doing so, there could be major collateral damage in Germany for businesses that work with Russia or for gas deliveries that come from Russia to Germany.
  • But the Sanctions have been initiated indicates that Germany has decisively come on board, partly to accommodate the pressure from its Nato allies amid the fresh Russian onslaught on Kyiv.

Reversal of policy on arms supply

  • From Germany’s perspective, this is one of the most significant shifts in foreign policy in years because Berlin had had a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to crisis zones because of its own historic past.
  • Germany will send weapons to Ukraine, both directly from its own borders but also indirectly through countries such as the Netherlands and Estonia.
  • Berlin has also authorised the Netherlands to send Ukraine 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and asked Estonia it send nine howitzer artillery guns.

Rethink on Nord Stream 2

  • The third key area in which Germany has bowed is the future of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, as Berlin modified its attitude early last week and decided to put the project's certification on hold until further notice.
  • The pipeline, which is operated by Russia's state-owned Gazprom, will stretch from western Siberia to Germany, tripling the capacity of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is already in operation.
  • The pipeline also goes around the country of Ukraine in a way that will have an influence on the Ukrainian capital.
  • In 2020, according to IHS Markit, Germany will be nearly entirely reliant on natural gas imports, with Russia accounting for more than half of all natural gas deliveries to the nation.
  • While Germany is the primary benefactor, part of the gas will be routed to Austria, Italy, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the United States.

Looking Forward:

  • The project was put on hold by German parliamentarians last year following the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in 2020, but Angela Merkel, his predecessor, successfully resisted the call.
  • On the other hand, supporters of the pipeline include Gerhard Schroeder, a member of Scholz's own SPD Party who served as Germany's chancellor before Angela Merkel.
  • Given the various pulls and pressures that existed inside Germany, it was not an easy decision. In the face of a persistent energy shortfall in Germany, the United States might easily persuade Berlin out of completing the pipeline that is ready to be put into service.
  • The resumption of the certification procedure represents a significant reversal in Berlin's previously declared attitude.