Has Putin’s Latest Adventure Just Cost Him the Support of Germany?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the world just how critical energy independence is to a country’s national security.

Europe, which relies heavily on Russian fossil fuels for approximately 40 percent their energy requirements, has come face to face with this realization.

But no country in Europe depends more on Russian energy than Germany, which has left them flatfooted as NATO debates how best to respond to the crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

Around 25 percent of Germany’s energy comes from natural gas, and 55 percent of its natural gas supply is imported from Russia. They also import oil and coal from Russia.

This awareness, understandably, puts them into a difficult position. They know that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a total atrocity, yet they have been hesitant to go along with the punitive measures advocated by their NATO allies because of their dependency on Russian natural gas, oil and coal.

However, it looks as if their leaders’ better angels may have prevailed. That, and the fierce amount of pressure applied by their NATO peers have led to a major shift in Germany’s posture toward Ukraine.

On Saturday, the German government announced they are on board with cutting off Russian banks from SWIFT, a consortium headquartered in Belgium, that facilitates payments between banks for international trade.

Additionally, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced plans to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine.

On Saturday, Scholz tweeted: “The Russian attack marks a turning point. It is our duty to do our best to help Ukraine defend against the invading army of Putin. That’s why we’re supplying 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger missiles to our friends in the Ukraine.”

Prior to Saturday, rather than admitting it was their fear of offending Putin who might then cut off their supply of energy as an excuse for not doing more to help Ukraine, Germany blamed their “restrictive arms export policy.”

Axios reported “the government said its ‘historical responsibilities’ prevented it from shipping arms to conflict zones, and had previously blocked other NATO allies from transferring German-origin weapons to Ukraine.”

So, other EU countries who wanted to send weapons from their own arsenals to Ukraine were barred from sending any that had been manufactured in Germany, which made up a large portion of their supplies.

An anonymous official from an EU nation told Politico last week: “The problem in Europe is that a lot of it is supplied by German manufacturers, and Germany so far is withholding consent. That instantly limits the available stores in Europe.”

Immediately after Germany lifted this ban on Saturday, the Netherlands announced they would be sending 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Ukraine.

Hopefully, other EU nations will follow.

Additionally, Scholz announced that Germany would be boosting its defense budget.

Germany’s new willingness to bite the hand that feeds them is a welcome development and will go far in helping the Ukrainians resist Putin’s aggression.

Putin was betting he would have this wrapped up by now. He underestimated the resilience of the Ukrainian people, and the support they’d receive from their friends.

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