Et would not have needed the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine to recognize the totalitarian character of the “Putin system”. The ruler in the Kremlin and his lackeys have demonstrated this for a long time and made it tangible for many Russians. And yet only the attack on the neighboring country and the Russian warfare opened some eyes.
Those who previously did not want to admit many things and gave themselves up to the illusion of dialogue and understanding, oblivious to reality; those who thought it would be a great idea – whether out of conviction, greed for money or for reasons of structural policy – if German-Russian energy relations were to become ever closer.
But now Germany’s dependence on Russian energy sources is being recognized for what it potentially always was: a problem that is costing Germans dearly, financially and politically, in a conflict. The repression went so far as to portray the now frozen Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a private enterprise – as if energy policy and the provision of energy to a modern society were something private.
Now the German dependency is at least called by its name and as the reason why an import ban on Russian oil and gas is not possible. Which of course means that Putin can continue to finance his aggression.
Russia is becoming economically isolated
Yes, the sanctions against Russia are unprecedented. They are the necessary asymmetric response to Putin’s war; they will do great damage to the Russian economy, even after Moscow’s will to annihilate has run its course. Russia is being downgraded to “junk” level, the ruble has plummeted, Western companies are leaving the country, and it will be economically isolated for a long time. Accomplices like the Syrian Assad or North Korea’s dictator are no help there.
But the war and its aftermath revealed something else: The systemic conflict between authoritarian regimes and democracies is a brutal reality. It cannot be “compartmentalized” according to the motto, here we argue about territories and human rights, there we work together and the economy is largely unaffected. That too is a fallacy.
When geopolitical competition gets out of hand, the economy suffers too, if only because of sanctions. Why do you think China’s head of state and party leader has expressed concern about its impact on the goods and financial markets?
There is probably more to this concern: surprise at how united and determined the West has been in reacting to Putin’s war so far. How would the West react if Beijing tried to annex Taiwan militarily? shrugging? Or with economic countermeasures, in view of which the discussion about supply chains would quickly be forgotten?
Even then Germany would be one of the victims. Because the economic integration with China continues. Does it need the ultimate wake-up call to recognize how delicate it is when economic connection becomes hopeless dependency and vulnerability?
The turning point proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz applies to Germany, Europe and the world.
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