Germany imagines its unique contribution is a commitment to soft power and peace through diplomacy. It’s hard to credit German idealism, though, when it has tethered itself to Russian gas over the long-standing objections of its allies. They warned that this would inevitably increase the geopolitical sway of Vladimir Putin, and so it has.
In a fit of self-sabotage, Germany is closing the last three of its nuclear power plants this year and is scheduled to close down its coal plants by 2038. No one buys more gas from Russia, where Germany now gets more than half of its supply. The country has been hell-bent on the development of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas directly from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and making it even more vulnerable to Russian coercion.
Germany has to be calculating that if it participates in harsh sanctions against Russia, it makes itself vulnerable to Russian countermeasures. Already, Russia has been squeezing Europe’s gas supplies. It’s not at all clear that Germany would give up on the pipeline even if Russian tanks roll for Kyiv.