January 19, 2022

New Brief Series: Germany and the Security of the Baltic States

John Macdougall/Pool via REUTERS
Angela Merkel with her successor Olaf Scholz during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, December 2, 2021.
Angela Merkel with her successor Olaf Scholz during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, December 2, 2021.

ICDS is introducing a new series of policy briefs “Germany and the Security of the Baltic States”.

Germany is among the Baltic states’ most important allies. Its support was crucial for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania’s aspirations to join the EU and NATO and it has since taken a leading role in advocating policies within these organisations that closely align with Baltic interests, for example the maintenance of sanctions against Russia following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. In defence, Germany has been one of the most active contributors to Baltic air policing, is the framework nation for NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Lithuania and has contributed to capacity building in NATO through its Framework Nations Concept.

At the same time, Germany has acted in ways that are difficult for the Baltic states. It has pursued dialogue and cooperation with Russia, which the Balts have often seen as fruitless or even dangerous. It has strongly supported the Nord Stream pipeline projects in the face of robust Baltic opposition. Its military contribution to Europe’s security has not matched it economic and political weight and its promised defence reforms have fallen behind schedule, weakening the credibility of NATO’s deterrence posture.

The stepping down of Angela Merkel and the formation of a new German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz offers an opportunity to reflect on Germany’s role in the security of the Baltic region, a role that the Baltic states would like to see grow. In this series of briefs, we look at the German-Baltic security relationship through various lenses, including NATO, the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, and Germany’s bilateral relations with the US and Russia.


In the first brief, introducing the series, Toms Rostoks sets out in broad terms what Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would like Germany to contribute to Baltic security and assesses the prospects for achieving this.

In the second brief of the series, Justinas Juozaitis considers Germany’s contribution to NATO, and looks at what might change under Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In the third brief, Margarita Šešelgytė and Emilė Indrašiūtė examine Germany’s approach to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and the broader question of Europe’s strategic autonomy and consider whether Germany’s policies align with Baltic views.

In the fourth brief, Marko Mihkelson turns our attention to the meaning of Germany’s bilateral relationships and examines the German-US relationship.

In the fifth and final brief, Kalev Stoicescu examines another of Germany’s key bilateral relationships—with Russia.


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