Alexander Query: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week
By Alexander Query.
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, more than 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
Ukraine’s Friend of the Week: Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the Green Party of Germany
Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the Green Party of Germany, thinks no words are too strong against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“Only one person benefits from Nord Stream 2: Putin,” Baerbock said in an interview with German outlet ZDFHeute on March 2. While Germany, she added, is increasingly losing credibility.
She urged the federal government to stop supporting the pipeline project.
Nord Stream 2 “is causing grave geopolitical problems and it contradicts European climate targets,” Baerbock said during a press conference in Berlin on March 19. “This pipeline should not be completed — that’s what we want to state clearly.”
A vocal critic of Russia’s project, Baerbock has enshrined plans in the party’s election program to abolish the controversial pipeline, creating hurdles to a potential alliance with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives who support the project.
The Green Party made it clear that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline will not see the light of day if they are part of the country’s next ruling coalition, an increasing outcome of Germany’s next elections.
Conservatives are leading in polls ahead of the September parliamentary elections and are seen as most likely to seek a coalition with the Green Party that is forecast to come second.
In two regional votes, it was the Green Party that emerged as kingmakers in the next ruling coalition, and they can help defeat the tsarist ambitions of Russia’s Vladimir Putin if they respect their words once the federal elections have passed.
Ukraine’s Foe of the Week: Armin Laschet, leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party
Armin Laschet, the new chairman of Germany’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), has the merit of consistency when it comes to Nord Stream 2.
Spoiler alert, Laschet firmly supports Russia’s pipeline, while monotonously repeating that Germany wants to “guarantee Ukraine’s geopolitical interests.”
In fairness, Laschet did urge Russia to release Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny during an interview with Internationale Politik Quarterly in January, right after his election.
However, when pressed on domestic energy supply, he said “Germany decides,” and when asked if he would be prepared to think again about the pipeline, Laschet simply replied: “No.”
Germany and Russia, he added, have maintained academic and business ties even at the height of the Cold War. “So the German government is basically doing the right thing,” he said.
Calling himself a “realpolitiker,” Laschet’s vision of Germany’s foreign policy is dictated by economic interests at the expense of Ukraine and the majority of the European Union’s members, who oppose the project.
If completed, Nord Stream 2 would allow Russia to bypass Ukraine when transporting an annual 110 billion cubic meters to the European Union through Germany, depriving Ukraine of at least $1.5 billion in transit fees per year.
Laschet’s election as CDU leader in January makes him the frontrunner to succeed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next September.
He is likely to follow Germany’s constant double-talk, consisting of sparing Russia’s autocratic regime to rule the gas market in Europe while reiterating empty promises of help to Ukraine — which makes him Ukraine’s foe of the week.