As the conflict in Ukraine heightens with Russia, Germany, which is roughly 400 miles away from the Ukrainian border, has been keeping a close eye on the escalation. With a distance that is almost half of that between Chicago and New York City, Germany could potentially be faced with a hard decision.
There has been a known tension between German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin, but the two have been in contact over the phone on a near daily basis since the crisis worsened in recent days. For now Germany has tried to stick to a diplomatic approach, but despite the efforts, Putin has continued to push for military involvement.
During an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his concern that Russia’s intervention up to this point shows that “the threat of a division of Europe is real again” and believes that it may be the worst crisis in Europe since the Berlin Wall.
Steinmeier is still holding out hope for a diplomatic approach to solving the conflict though. “Now is time for diplomacy. Diplomacy does not mean weakness but is more needed than ever to prevent us from being drawn into the abyss of military escalation,” he said on Monday.
There is also the issue of the strong economic relationship Germany has had with Russia. Roughly 40 percent of the country’s gas and 35 percent of its oil is imported from Russia. A disruption in that agreement could have disastrous implications for both countries.
For now a military option is off the table for Germany. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert commented that the German government “is not thinking in military terms” and that it isn’t too late “to solve this crisis politically and peacefully.”