D.if Angela Merkel once again called for the release of opposition leader Navalnyj in Moscow, Putin will not impress any more than before. The Chancellor is about to leave office, and he has long since chosen to rigorously prosecute his critics.
The case is of course symbolic of the fact that the “profound differences” of which Merkel spoke have increased in the 16 years of her chancellorship and are increasingly affecting Russian domestic politics. Germany is dealing with an increasingly authoritarian regime that is openly opposing the West.
Defeat of NATO
Afghanistan, where NATO has just suffered its bitterest defeat, is unlikely to become a central arena for this competition; the country is not strategically important enough for that. But the current geopolitical game is well known: As in other places from which the West is withdrawing, Putin is trying to get a foot in the door in Kabul. The fact that the Chancellor even asked him to intercede with the Taliban shows how much he has repeatedly benefited from the failure of the West.
However, the Ukrainian question remains more urgent. Putin’s recent military threats and attempts to deny Ukraine independence suggest that he is not done with the country. Merkel reacted to the annexation of Crimea with resolute sanctions that probably prevented worse things from happening. Your successor must stand firm.
Russia, on the other hand, is tied to one of the biggest foreign policy mistakes of her tenure. The bottom line is that Nord Stream 2 brings something to Putin, and that again strategically. The commissioning of the line can no longer be prevented, so it depends on the next discussion.
Germany may not need gas for too long. But then to fill the tubes with hydrogen, as parts of the German economy imagine, would be unwise. The energy transition should be used to reduce our dependence on Russia.