In the fifth and final brief in our Germany and Baltic Security series, Kalev Stoicescu examines another of Germany’s key bilateral relationships—with Russia.
Relations between Germany (or historical German and German-led states) and Russia have greatly influenced the Baltic region for centuries. In recent years, what the Baltic states see as Germany’s over-reliance on Russian gas supplies, even as they themselves have tried to secure energy independence from Russia, has been a source of tension. The Nord Stream pipelines, which Germany claims are a business project, but which the Baltic states regard as a security risk, have been particularly problematic.
But at the same time, the Baltic states recognise that Germany has since 2014 adopted a resolute approach towards Russia regarding sanctions; even if they are sceptical that Berlin’s ambiguous policies towards Moscow, being both firm and conciliatory, will change Russia’s behaviour.
With the appointment as foreign minister of Annalena Baerbock, who has opposed Nord Stream 2 and strongly criticised Russia’s misconduct, Olaf Scholz’s new government may stand closer to Baltic perceptions and interests and become a more principled and difficult counterpart for Russia. The Baltic states might be encouraged to trust Germany more in its dealings with Russia, but the new government must first prove itself in its words and actions.
Download and read: Brief No.5. Germany, Russia, and Energy Politics (PDF)