According to The Times, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated at a roundtable discussion at the Berlin Security Conference that he is willing to sit at the negotiation table with the Kremlin on problems such as gun control and missile deployment if Vladimir Putin stops trying to expand Russia’s territory by attacking its neighbours.
Scholz added that all “shared security challenges” should be resolved after relations between Europe and Russia have reverted to the “peace order” that existed before Russia’s engagement in Ukraine and the cessation of hostilities. Scholz responded as follows when asked how Berlin would build relations with Moscow when the conflict ended, considering the strong partnership that existed between the parties:
“Russia has disrupted the peaceful order we have been working on for decades. And we agree that there should never again be attempts to change the borders by force… And what Russia is doing today is going back to the imperialistic approach of the 19th, 18th, and 17th centuries… These practices are unacceptable… We must return to the agreements that have been in force in recent years and which are the basis of peace and security in Europe … For Russia, this means recognizing the existence of open societies, and democracies with a completely different system of government … All issues of general security can be discussed and resolved. There is preparation for this… If Russia is willing to return to such a peaceful order, we can return to the peaceful order that works and makes the world safe again.”
The German leader’s stance contrasts the sentiments of Poland, Romania, and the Baltic nations toward Russia, particularly in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) eastern wing. Ukraine is in a similar position. At the same time, these countries do not think the Kremlin will make compromises or follow through on post-conflict peace agreements.
In this context, Germany disagrees with other NATO member states. However, Berlin also lays the groundwork for a new European security architecture and reconciliation with Moscow. In this context, Germany’s and the United States of America’s (USA) positions on certain subjects overlap, while others differ.
One point where the perspectives diverge is the resolution of the wars, as well as Russia’s abandonment of its aggressive attitude and signing of a peace agreement. The expected peace agreement from Moscow is to guarantee security to Kyiv and ensure that it does not make territorial claims against European nations. This indicates that Russia will acknowledge European boundaries. In exchange, the possibility of reviving German-Russian collaboration is open to discussion.
The USA has similar expectations from Russia. Washington wants the peace agreement to include European security in a limited sense and the Euro-Atlantic security system in a broader sense. So, it wants Russia to fulfil Western expectations.
As it may be recalled, a similar process occurred following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia had expressed its willingness to participate in the Euro-Atlantic security framework and to be an ally of the USA. However, due to a variety of issues, Moscow’s expectations and the demands made by Russia were not met. The Moscow administration decided to abandon this idea and follow a different strategy. The strategy was based on fighting against the USA.
The disparities in attitudes toward Russia between Germany and the USA are tied to Moscow’s role in Europe. Germany wants Russia to return to the pre-February 2022 world order. The USA, on the other hand, envisions Russia following the Ukraine War in two ways. First and foremost, the Washington administration favors restoring Russia to the way it was in the early 1990s. There is a demand for a militarily weak Russia that wants to be an economic and political ally of the USA rather than Europe.
Secondly, Washington is against the strengthening of economic cooperation between Russia and Germany. This is because there is a chance that a Russia-Europe reconciliation will call the Euro-US economic integration into question once more.
Scholz’s desire to re-include Russia in the European security architecture at the Berlin Security Conference is connected to the second expectation that the USA has imagined for Russia. Because Germany aims to re-establish an energy alliance with Russia. It wants to bolster its economy with cheaper Russian energy resources and re-enter the Russian market, which is important for German industry. In exchange, it is anticipated that Russia would be accepted into the European security system and reintegrated into the European economy.
At this point, the German economy is having trouble finding alternate supplies of Russian natural gas and oil. The economic decline of Germany, the European economy’s driving force, implies that both the country and a political entity such as the European Union (EU) loses power. It is believed that the weakening of the economy, which is one of the foundations of the EU, which is based on shared security, economics, and democracy, may lead to instability in the union. Europe’s political power is based on its economic capacity. As a result, if the European economy weakens, the continent may become dependent on the USA and cease to be a global actor.
As can be understood, the continuation of the Russia-Ukraine War means that the problems in the German economy will continue. Berlin, on the other hand, lacks the means to end the war. Before the operation, Germany attempted but failed to persuade Russia not to invade Ukraine. In the current circumstances, Berlin must pursue a new strategy since Moscow does not heed Germany’s word. As a result, Germany, on the one hand, expects Russia to be punished, but on the other, does not want this punishment to continue long. However, it is also insufficient in making such a decision.
On the other hand, there is the notion that Germany is on Russia’s side. Kyiv and Eastern European nations have criticized Berlin for not being harsh enough on Russia. Germany’s passive stance is strongly tied to the fact that it is regarded as an actor who prefers not to wear out Russia and is hesitant to back Ukraine. As a result, Scholz’s recent comment that he wants to include Russia in the European system demonstrates that Berlin supports reconciliation with Russia within the context of its economic ambitions.
 “Times: канцлер ФРГ Шольц призвал вернуться к «мирному порядку» с Россией”, Gazeta.Ru, https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2022/12/02/19174801.shtml, (Date of Accession: 02.12.2022).
 “Olaf Scholz Hopes Russia Will Return to the Fold After Ukraine War”, The Times, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/olaf-scholz-ukraine-war-peace-order-putin-w99zlnnw7, (Date of Accession: 02.12.2022).