Germany’s Real Role in the Ukraine Crisis

Caught Between East and West

Courtesy Reuters

In his discussion of German foreign policy’s supposed drift eastward, Hans Kundnani (“Leaving the West Behind,” January/February 2015) suggests that Germany has resisted imposing sanctions on Russia over its undeclared war with Ukraine—a sign, in his view, that Germany might once again desert the West in a flirtation with Russia. That interpretation is little more than an urban legend. True, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has resisted blunt sanctions and has taken every opportunity to negotiate with Moscow in her efforts to de-escalate the fighting in Ukraine. But her approach is supporting sanctions, not opposing them—and it certainly is not appeasing Moscow.

From the start, Merkel has played an impressive role in responding to the Ukraine crisis. In fact, her actions have allowed Germany to assume geopolitical leadership of Europe for the first time since 1945. Dropping her customary style of leading from behind, Merkel immediately declared Russia’s

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