Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Two years ago, Moscow eyed a US-German standoff over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a litmus test of transatlantic power.
Russia had invested heavily in the 750-mile undersea pipeline linking it to Germany and wanted to increase global sales and ramp up economic leverage over Europe and its power-hungry heavy industries. Germany, a leading consumer, was on board from the get-go. Washington was not.
The United States didn’t want the new, high-capacity subsea supply to supplant old overland lines that transited Ukraine, providing vital revenue to the increasingly Westward-leaning leadership in Kyiv.
Russia reasoned that if Washington blocked Nord Stream 2, which it ultimately did, then it would show that European power no longer flowed through Berlin, but actually via the White House.
Fast-forward two years, and reading that transatlantic dynamic post-Angela Merkel, and particularly post-Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failing invasion of Ukraine, has become one of the most pressing political questions vexing the Kremlin.
Rare moment of steely leadership: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s refusal, in his words, “to be pushed” to go it alone in sending tanks to Ukraine — instead standing his ground and demanding US President Joe Biden join him in the venture, risking Putin’s wrath — has shown the transatlantic power dynamic has shifted.
Europe has been slow to respond to the deep fissures in US politics and the uncertainty another Trumpian-style presidency could wreak on its allies. Decades of a reasonably unshakable reliance, if not complete trust, in the US, has been replaced by stubborn European pragmatism — and Germany leads the way.
Read the full analysis here.