Germany back in the Baltic Sea.
November 8th, 2016.- The main game changer for Germany’s relations with Russia was the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in eastern Ukraine. While Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia could have been interpreted as an isolated action on Europe’s borders, the occupation of Crimea once again showed Russia’s willingness to use force and neglect international law. It also challenged key pillars in German policy, such as the European security order and Ukraine’s own right to decide on its association agreement with the EU.
As a response to the fears that Crimea’s annexation sent through the Baltic States and eastern Europe, Germany demonstrated immediate political support for its eastern neighbors. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen separately visited the Baltic capitals with messages of support. The visits also signalled an inner German unity because Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, represented a more Russia-friendly standpoint in the government than that of Merkel, a Christian Democrat.
In accordance with its obligations and the NATO Readiness Action Plan adopted at NATO’s summit in Wales in 2014, Germany plays an important role in securing NATO’s eastern flank. It has taken an active part in reinforcing the Air Policing mission over the Baltic states despite having previously announced a pause until the Air Force had finished its introduction of Typhoon fighters. Moreover, Germany has stepped up its presence at the upgraded Multinational Corps North East in Szczecin in Poland, a headquarters within NATO’s command structure. However, Germany has rejected the idea of giving specific territorial responsibility to the headquarters, as Russia could interpret this as a threat. Read article here