The European Union has extended sanctions punishing Russia for its seizure of Crimea and its role in the Ukraine Crisis by another six months. Although a growing divide between Europeans has undermined a united front against Russian aggression, sanctions were never intended to permanently isolate Russia while there will only be a need to renew sanctions if the Putin government creates that need. The nations of Europe are, of course, the ones that face the greatest threat from a domineering Russia that shows no respect for the sovereign rights of weaker nations, so it is they who will determine if the Putin government must be held accountable for the sake of international security and if the US continues to confront Putin.
That said, the governments and Peoples of Europe will only act to address their collective national security interests, especially when doing so undermines their interests as individual nations, if they see those collective interests are a top priority of all EU members. Nothing undermines the ability of countries to come together like hypocrisy. Indeed, there was great controversy when France refused to cancel the sale of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia during the onslaught of the Ukraine Crisis while Greece received flak when flirting with Russia for a handout and negotiating to be part of the Turkish Stream Pipeline after the abandonment of the South Stream pipeline. The so-called Nord Stream 2 pipeline expansion challenges Germany’s commitment to common European interests.
The United States bolstered its European allies in their efforts to confront Russia over its bullying tactics against the small nations of George and Ukraine in order to secure its allies by blunting Russian aggression. Since then, the United States has become the target of a blistering Russian propaganda campaign and the focal point for intensifying criticism over its supposed “imperialism” while it has also risked war with this major global military power. Among the accusations made against the US are a number of conspiracy theories that conclude America is attacking Russia to secure Saudi oil and undermine European energy independence.
Ironically, America is now blamed for “tooling up” the entire Ukraine Crisis and the Islamic State threat, but Germany was originally blamed by Russian propaganda for inciting anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine over political and economic interests. German embrace of the Nord Stream-II pipeline expansion appears to demonstrate the validity of such allegations. To be bluntly honest, the US has done its fair share of wrongs throughout the world, including those that have been thoroughly hypocritical. It has only undermined American interests in the end. Germany would be wise to recognize how self-destructive “double dealing” can be to even an economic powerhouse like Germany.
From the perspective of impoverished, debt-ridden countries like Italy and Greece, which would have benefited from the South Stream Pipeline and/or the Turkish Stream Pipeline, it would appear Germany may well have been conspiring against poor European countries for the advantage of rich Europeans. After being forced to beg Germany for a bailout then endure a harsh and ongoing depression thanks largely to strict German terms, the willingness of Germany to take an economic opportunity, which would have transformed the struggling Greece economy from one poisoned by debt to one healed by energy production, the stab in the back is unbearable. It is as if the Germans have belittled the Greeks for needing financial support after they helped destroy their jobs.
Frankly, Germany’s willingness to go through with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline expansion would tell Europeans of poorer countries that the economic interests of rich European Union countries come first; the EU exists to indebt the poor and to enrich the already rich. Instead of allowing poor countries to seize upon an economic opportunity, the rich countries of Europe have used a political situation to game the system to their advantage. Even if the Ukraine Crisis was actually resolved, even if German had no wrong intent, this is the message Germany is sending, as it pursues the Nord Stream-II pipeline expansion.
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