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Putin woos the Germans

Sowing divisions: Vladimir Putin with Angela Merkel in 2018. Steffen Kugler/Bundesregierung/Getty

Vladimir Putin’s main goal isn’t war with Ukraine, says Pierre Lellouche in Marianne. It’s an entire “reconfiguration of the European order”, with an alliance between Germany and Russia at its heart. Germany has always been an “essential pivot” in European security, and during the Cold War, the Soviet Union tried (unsuccessfully) to prise West Germany out of Nato by deploying medium-range missiles in Europe. Today, Putin has managed to sow deep division in German politics about how to tackle Russia – Germany’s naval chief had to resign recently after saying that his country owed “respect” to Putin. Practically the only military support Berlin has offered Ukraine is 5,000 helmets for soldiers.

The Russo-German alliance Putin envisions has mutual economic benefits. Berlin “depends on” Russian oil and gas, while Russia, whose economy “barely exceeds that of Spain”, gets access to Germany’s industrial might. But this economic partnership can’t be apolitical – if it flourishes, it’ll bring down the transatlantic alliance between Europe and America, “and even, in the long term, the European Union”. Britain “has as usual chosen America and the open sea”, via Brexit and Aukus. But France, which would be a mere “satellite” under a chilling Russo-German alliance, must make sure that Germany stays firmly on the side of the West.

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