May. 3, 2014 by Darius
In response to continued Russian provocations in Ukraine, many in the US are calling for drastically increased economic sanctions against Russia. There’s one problem with that: Europe isn’t on board. German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Washington, DC, yesterday with an important message for President Obama: German corporations are not willing to go along with broad sanctions against Russia.
The reasons are simple: the US, with the exception of a few oil companies, does not have particularly significant economic ties with Russia. Germany, on the other hand, does. The US is pushing sanctions chiefly because it is a way of inflicting pain on Russia without military action. The US will not be harmed overly much by sanctions, but Germany, will be.
The example of Iran has shown that if Germany is not willing to go along with US sanctions, there is little point to having them. German businessmen are advocating a purely diplomatic solution to the crisis. That may not be ideal for the West (after all, Putin isn’t stupid—he’ll use the fact that there is a limit to possible escalation to take whatever he can get) but, it seems to be the only realistic option.
The other important message Chancellor Merkel delivered to President Obama: she and her country are still ticked off about being subjected to US surveillance. That, no doubt, makes working together on Russia just a bit more awkward.