Germany Now ‘Hostage’ to Putin After US Poured Billions Into Defending It From Russia
- Russia’s cuts to natural gas exports have crippled Germany’s economy after a history of poorly executed climate policy.
- The U.S. has invested billions in shoring up European defenses and putting pressure on Germany to boost defense spending, but Germany continued to pursue deeper ties with Russia.
- “Foolish decisions by the German government have made the country hostage to Russia,” Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s temporary shutdown of the NordStream 1 pipeline in July sent gas prices soaring and Germany bracing for permanent energy insecurity. While the U.S. has invested heavily in Europe’s defenses as a counter to Russia, Germany could still lose out to Russia on economic terms.
The U.S. made Germany a cornerstone of its European defense, investing billions of dollars and thousands of troops to man the front lines of the Cold War against Russia over previous decades, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation. But Germany’s botched transition to renewable energy sources has given Russia, which controls a third of Germany’s gas imports according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the power to cripple Germany’s economy and expose it to a brutal winter.
“Foolish decisions by the German government have made the country hostage to Russia,” Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told the DCNF. “Germany’s energy transition to green energy has been an incredibly expensive disaster.”
After Germany joined its Western allies in levying sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Putin cut gas flows to Europe. Germany’s economy crumbled from the lack of access to cheap energy, sending it scrambling for alternatives, like coal and nuclear, it previously spurned.
If Russian gas flows stop, Germany could lose up to 5% of its GDP in 2022, with losses deepening in 2023 and 2024, according to the IMF.
Failure to find a substitute for Russian gas could lead to “people freezing to death next winter, as well as industrial collapse,” Ebell said.
Germany has been reliant on Russian energy for decades, since the West German government shared its knowledge of industrial production with the former USSR in exchange for natural gas, Peter Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, explained to the DCNF.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had warned Germany against overreliance on Russian energy at a UN General Assembly meeting in 2018. The German delegation present mocked him.
Former chancellor Angela Merkel, known as the “climate chancellor” for her focus on reducing emissions, decided to shift away from nuclear energy in 2021, Reuters reported. Critics said this would sabotage Germany’s efforts to transition away from natural gas from Russia.
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder currently sits on the board of Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned oil giant, and remains unapologetic even after the invasion, The New York Times reported in April.
Given what bedwetters Germans are anyway when it comes to confronting Russia (see the existential struggle over whether to send Ukraine armoured personnel carriers), it makes more sense for Putin longer term to just keep them guessing by rattling their cage every now and again.
— Matt Karnitschnig (@MKarnitschnig) July 16, 2022
So when the Russian army was amassing on the border of Ukraine in early February, Germany stalled on a decision to halt Nord Stream 2, a controversial pipeline that would bypass Ukraine to deliver Russian gas to Germany at a lower cost, Deutsch Welle (DW) reported. Germany also received widespread criticism after donating just 5,000 helmets to Ukrainian troops preparing for war.
Germany feels caught between a desire for positive relations with Russia and a need to maintain strong ties to the U.S. and other NATO states, Christopher Layne, Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security and professor at Texas A&M University, told the DCNF.
“Maintaining a cooperative relationship with Russia has been one of the cardinal aims of post-World War II German foreign policy,” Layne said. He called Germany’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine both “conflicted” and “ambivalent.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ramped up Germany’s defense budget on Feb. 27, just days after Putin invaded, introducing a EUR100 billion supplemental fund and pledging to meet the minimum 2% GDP NATO spending requirement from 2022 forward. The government also authorized arms shipments to Ukraine despite the majority coalition’s prior rules against sending weapons to active conflict zones, DW reported.
But German heavy weaponry didn’t reach Ukraine until June, after it greenlighted deliveries of self-propelled antiaircraft guns in April, The Washington Post reported.
The U.S. considers Germany, the headquarters of the Army’s European Command, a key player in the anti-Russia NATO alliance, according to the State Department.
Roughly 48,000 U.S. active duty, reserve and civilian personnel were stationed in Germany as of March 2022, accordingto the Defense Manpower Data Center. The U.S. deployed an additional 20,000 troops to Europe between February and June 2022 to bolster NATO’s eastern flank, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) statement.
“Germany’s politicians have been pounding podiums in public but issuing no meaningful commands or actions behind the scenes,” Peter Doran, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies with a focus on Russia, Ukraine and transatlantic relations, told the DCNF. “Berlin has been keen to gain public approval on the world stage for its soaring rhetoric — but without reversing two decades of its colossally short-sighted pro-Russia policy.”
The German Embassy to the U.S. declined to comment, and DOD directed the DCNF to public statements. The U.S. Embassy to Germany did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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After being buried, the truth about Europe’s energy crisis is emerging and people are starting to connect the dots. Germany’s (and Europe’s) “Green New Deal” is not only responsible for their crashing economy but, along with U.S. policy, responsible for the Ukraine war. After decades of shutting down their nuclear and coal fired plants Germany (and most of Europe) gets at least 40% of its gas and oil from Russia and can’t survive without it. Nord Stream 1 ran from Russia through Ukraine to supply Germany (and all of Europe) with Russian gas and oil. It was problematic for Putin because he had to pay huge tariffs to Ukraine and more problematic as the U.S. kept pushing Ukraine to join NATO; a “red line” for Putin as it could have threatened the oil supply line and Russia’s main source of revenue. So then he built Nord Stream 2 which runs directly to Germany from Russia. Trump opposed it and Biden approved it. Trump even warned Germany about their dependence on Russian oil and they ignored him. Putin “owned” Europe with its gas and oil dependence, he saw Biden’s debacle in Afghanistan, witnessed his foreign and domestic policy ineptness and fecklessness; so it’s really no surprise he decided to attack.
So while Biden says his sanctions will bankrupt Putin, the truth is that Germany and all of Europe are still buying Russian gas and oil, the Russian ruble is rising, the dollar is crashing and Putin (with Biden’s help) has castrated NATO. Gas prices and inflation will continue to rise and because of the lack of Russian fertilizer and Russian grain, worldwide food shortages are likely. There is also a new refugee crisis in Europe, hundreds of thousands will die, western economies are crashing and we are in a proxy war with Russia that we didn’t vote on, can’t afford, and can’t win. And Biden wants to send money to Ukraine endlessly and impose Europe’s proven energy disaster here. Had enough yet, America??