NATO, Germany, Russia, and the Future, Part 5

The final section of the research paper presents the conclusions based on the finding of my research. A follow up post will present opinions on the current and future situation, as described by the research.


Germany suffers from its unique position in the world today. Berlin is balancing its historically good relations with the West, and its center stage role in NATO and the EU with its desire to work with Moscow, and ensure cheap energy continues to flow from Russian pipelines. Germany is very concerned with not antagonizing Moscow specifically for the reason of cheap energy. As long as Russia can threaten Ukraine with shutting off the gas valves, Germany will continue to be concerned, and even thereafter, unless Germany can remove itself from a high dependency on Russian natural resources, which seems unlikely.

In terms of the CFE treaty, Germany and the other NATO signatories on the treaty must ratify the 1999 adaptation of the treaty, but are waiting for Russia to match its CFE obligations, something which Moscow refuses to do. Moscow is citing a raft of grievances, including the outdated nature of the treaty, unfair obligations, and non-legally binding restrictions which it refuses to acknowledge. The CFE treaty is one of the largest points of contention between Berlin and Moscow. Germany supports the CFE, considering it necessary for the security of Europe and of vital important to the coherence of the European Union. Since Berlin holds these policy views, it will likely push for continuation of CFE provisions, however Moscow may dislike the notion.

The OSCE is yet another point of contention between Berlin and Moscow. While Berlin holds ties to Washington and is supportive of the OSCE, Moscow has taken firm stances against its implementation. The Medvedev proposal seeks to counter the OSCE, and Russia stands firmly behind the proposal. The problems inherent in relations between Berlin, Moscow, and Washington are the sympathetic voice for Moscow from Berlin, tempered by a healthy dose of skepticism from Moscow critics. Moscow is also pushing for support from individual states and refusing to allow organizations (i.e. NATO) enter into negotiations as the organization proper. It has also pushed for China and other Asian states to have access, further disrupting the Euro-centric focus of the OSCE. Berlin still sides with Washington in defense matters however, so the final decision on the OSCE from Berlin remains murky.

NATO has a long history of uncomfortable relations with Moscow. The two sides often view each other with mistrust misperceptions, and the bright points of cooperation that do exist are often minor incidents or political-point grabbing forums of cooperation. There is still very little agreement between the Western defense alliance and Moscow on anything of import – namely troop and material levels allowed to be deployed in the European theatre. Moscow does not want to alienate NATO because of the Afghan problem on its southern border – a problem which Moscow does need NATO’s help with, but it also does not want to join or promote the alliance, due to its desire to gain ascendency in the minds of European defense policy makers.

The German factor of East-West relations is both one of trust and skepticism. German leaders and businessmen are eager to invest in Russia and see massive potential for growth and profits there. However, the German leadership is uncomfortable with Russia on a humanitarian level, and has expressed those misgivings to an unsympathetic Russian ear. The lack of Russian respect for German ideals of total integration and development renders many German leaders skeptical of Russian goals and ideals. While Germany does continue to reach out to Moscow in economic, social, and regional forums, it remains firmly on the side of Washington and NATO in matters of defense. Germany does believe the CFE and OSCE necessary to the stability and safety of Europe for the present and the future, and has pushed both European powers and Moscow to accept the terms. Germany also recognizes the necessity and important of NATO, though many Germans consider NATO to be a relic of the past and expansion of NATO to be a moot point. Germany must continue to approach its policy options with the grace of a high-wire act, balancing its security needs and obligations through NATO with its desire to integrate and develop Russia. Germany must be able to take a strict stance with Moscow when regional stability is in play, or when Russia’s actions threaten to undermine German policy goals, an approach much different from the German response to the Russian invasion of Georgia. However, Germany must also remain open to discussion and cooperation with Moscow for collaboration of defense projects (such as the use of Russian railways) and the development of energy projects for the continued safety of German energy supplies. While Germany does indeed face many challenges on many fronts, it continues to confront each issue as a balancing act between what Berlin wants, what Europe wants, what Washington wants, and what Moscow wants.

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