Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Germans agree with Merkel on tougher sanctions against Russia

Germany Puts Curbing Russia Ahead of Commerce

By ALISON SMALE, NYT, AUG. 13, 2014

BERLIN — Over recent months, something significant has happened in Europe: In the crisis over Ukraine, Germany has assumed leadership not just in its familiar fashion of trying to coax Russia away from belligerence and bluster, but also in standing firm and imposing sanctions on Moscow even if they hurt German business.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that Germans, long anxious to preserve commercial, energy and cultural ties with their vast eastern neighbor, have gone along. Seventy percent of 1,003 adults polled last week by Infratest dimap for the public broadcaster ARD approved of stricter sanctions; just 15 percent viewed Russia as a reliable partner in a poll with a three-percentage-point margin of sampling error.

In marked contrast to France’s leadership, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government — a united “grand coalition” of center-right and center-left — have kept German businesses apprised of any shift in thinking and made it clear throughout that tougher sanctions would be imposed if Russia fell further out of line.

The political upheaval over Ukraine has already affected Germany’s economy, slowing down growth and throwing into question the country’s ability to sustain its long record of robust performance even amid anemic recovery elsewhere in the European Union, economists said. The sanctions that would restrict trade between the countries are likely to cause further damage.

(More here.)

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