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History overshadows Germany’s relations with Russia today, greatly complicating Berlin’s efforts to design effective policies to manage the challenge posed by Russia to Europe’s stability. This book examines the impact of Germans’ intense and dramatic relationship with Russia going back centuries to explain the failure of Berlin’s Russia policy after 1991. It focused heavily on ‘soft’ power by promoting people to people contacts and encouraging trade. Grateful for Moscow’s blessing of reunification and anxious to avoid confrontation, German policymakers ignored Russia’s drift to authoritarianism, its growing confidence fuelled by high commodity prices and its gradual alienation from Europe. Confrontation was inevitable once Russia no longer felt bound by the security principles that ended the Cold War. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a deep shock to the German elites. It caused a sharp shift in Russia policy as Chancellor Merkel led a European response to stabilise Ukraine, which included imposing economic sanctions on Russia. However, true to its old instincts, Germany continued to promote energy cooperation with Russia and even supported the expansion of a gas pipeline from Germany to Russia that was damaging to Ukraine. The book discusses these policies and their outcomes and argues that the economic relationship is overstated and camouflages the true state of overall relations. The analysis also considers the issue of Russian influence in Germany and the dangers it poses. The book concludes that Germany needs to think strategically about Russia and to define policy goals based on interests not emotions.
This book offers a nuanced and detailed examination of Russia’s international activity. In broad terms, the book contributes to two of the most important current debates about contemporary Russian actions: whether Moscow is acting strategically or opportunistically, and whether this should be understood in regional or global terms. The book goes against the majority opinions on both questions, and introduces contributions in a number of under-researched themes. It argues that Moscow is not acting in a simply ad hoc, reactive way, but in a consistently strategic manner, and that this is best understood not by analysing Russia’s return to specific regions, but in a more holistic way with a global horizon, linking activity across different regions. This means that the Russian challenge is likely to continue rather than fade away.
The book addresses core themes of Russian activity – military, energy, and economic. But it offers an unusual multi-disciplinary analysis to these themes, incorporating both regional and thematic specialist expertise. Underpinned by detailed analyses of the revolution in Russian geospatial capabilities and the establishment of a strategic planning foundation, the book includes chapters on military and maritime strategies, energy security, and economic diversification and influence. This serves to highlight the connections between military and economic interests that shape and drive Russian strategy.