Ideological motivations and shadowy US influence networks only go so far in accounting for Germany’s pivot from Russia’s top partner in Europe to one of its top opponents. The latest analysis for RT from leading Russian expert Fyodor Lukyanov would arguably have benefited by incorporating a geopolitical dimension with regards to Germany’s regional competition with Poland.
Chairman of the Council on Foreign & Defense Policy and Research Director at the prestigious Valdai Club Fyodor Lukyanov, whose positions make him one of Russia’s top policy influencers, observed in his latest analysis for RT that “the Green Party has turned Germany Eastern European”. According to him, “Germany has now moved as much towards a conventional Eastern European stance (regarding Russia) as it had previously been a pillar of the normal Western European positioning.”
Lukyanov believes that this is mostly attributable to the influence that the Greens are exerting on Germany’s grand strategy, which he claims is now promised additional US security guarantees in exchange for abandoning its prior pragmatism and strategic economic autonomy towards Russia. This is a sensible explanation of how the US successfully asserted its previously declining hegemony over the EU’s de facto leader, but there’s more to it than just that, with all due respect to this expert.
Ideological motivations and shadowy US influence networks only go so far in accounting for Germany’s pivot from Russia’s top partner in Europe to one of its top opponents. Lukyanov’s analysis could benefit by incorporating a geopolitical dimension with regards to Germany’s regional competition with Poland, the latter of which envisages restoring its long-lost “sphere of influence” and even expanding it. To that end, Poland has hyped up the German threat to Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) over the past year.
It exploited the perception of Berlin’s visible reluctance since the start of Russia’s special operation to play a leading role in the resultant NATO proxy war along the lines of Warsaw and the Baltic States in order to fearmonger that Germany might secretly be in cahoots with the Kremlin. After weaponizing extremely sensitive historical memories related to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was then able to maximally pressure Germany into abandoning its prior pragmatism towards Moscow.
The earlier identified factors of liberal–globalist ideology and shadowy US influence ensured that the zero-sum fear among some Germany policymakers that Poland is poised to replace their country’s influence over CEE throughout the course of this conflict resulted in the US’ envisaged anti-Russian pivot. Had it not been for those two aforementioned factors, then this selfsame fear might not have been acted upon, but it can likewise be said that this fear framed the policy that those two factors influenced.
Instead of there being two primary reasons that Germany commenced its anti-Russian pivot, there’s actually three, with the first two that Lukyanov identified having a symbiotic relationship with the third that was introduced in this analysis. Geopolitical fears vis-à-vis Poland resulted in the prior creation of a contingency framework that was then acted upon due to interconnected ideological-influence catalysts. Had one of these factors been absent, then Germany probably wouldn’t have pivoted against Russia.
It’s now known from former Chancellor Merkel’s own admission that Berlin never had any intention to honor the Minsk Accords, instead seeking to exploit them for the purpose of rearming Kiev ahead of a final offensive against Donbass. This proves that Germany was trying to expand its influence to the furthest reaches of CEE this entire time, but this grand strategic goal was abruptly challenged by Russia’s special operation and the leading role that Poland appointed for itself in fighting NATO’s proxy war.
Despite the ideological and influence factors that were already exerting sway over German policy at the onset of this conflict, they weren’t powerful enough on their own to get Germany to play an equal role on par with Poland’s. Policymakers might have wrongly thought that it would be over in just a few weeks or one month at most, thus wagering that it’s better to retain a comparatively more pragmatic policy towards Russia, notwithstanding their compliance with the US’ sanctions demands.
It was only after it became obvious that this would likely become a protracted conflict that they began deliberating whether to change their stance by playing some sort of military role in response to the immense pressure to compete with Poland for hearts and minds in CEE. From the US’ perspective, it was beneficial to encourage these dynamics in order to avoid being too dependent on Poland as its top European partner after the conflict ends as well as to get Germany to ruin its ties with Russia.
The de facto confederation that Poland and Ukraine announced after President Duda’s trip to Kiev in late May 2022 made Germany fear that its neighbor might beat it in the competition for becoming Ukraine’s most important post-conflict partner. That development coupled with the growing Polish-led soft power pressure from CEE contributed to Germany finally considering a greater role in this proxy war, which culminated with Chancellor Scholz’s hegemonic manifesto that he unveiled in the US last December.
Everything that followed regarding Germany’s growing role as an anti-Russian Great Power can be connected to that preceding manifesto, which was analyzed at length in the embedded hyperlink for those intrepid readers who’d like to learn more about it. That grand strategy wouldn’t have been shared with the public had it not been for the confluence of ideological, influence, and geopolitical factors, thus proving the importance of all three and especially the last-mentioned one.
Returning to Lukyanov’s analysis, it’s of course very insightful but remains incomplete since it lacks the Polish factor that accounts for why those other two ultimately resulted in Germany’s anti-Russian pivot by the end of last year and not right after the onset of the special operation. In any case, his conclusion that Germany is nowadays one of Russia’s top opponents is significant since it can be intuited as reflecting the views of his fellow policy influencers, thus boding ill for the future of bilateral ties.