It seems that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not going to please her detractors with ever assuming the status of a "lame duck", although she will have to quit as German Chancellor as early as in the fall of 2021. This is evidenced by her rigorous consistency in restoring contacts with the new Washington administration that were nearly destroyed by Donald Trump, while simultaneously defending the right of European business to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Along with that, Angela Merkel supports the European Union's anti-Russian attack over the situation with Navalny and the expulsion of German, Swedish and Polish diplomats from Moscow for their engagement in unauthorized actions to support the opposition blogger, thus joining all those threatening our country with new sanctions.
It is somewhat embarrassing to once again mention the hoary double standards the West regularly uses, but one can easily imagine what stir may be caused if Russian diplomats are found, for instance, among campaigners against the restriction of "civil liberties" over the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium, France, Germany or the Netherlands. Or taking part in US rallies to support Donald Trump. Brussels and Berlin regard diplomats from the EU marching to support Navalny in Russia as quite a different matter. As a result, chairman of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament Manfred Weber is vociferously demanding new punitive sanctions against Russia: "We need to activate the already prepared sanctions, with financial flows of Russians supporting those in power in the Kremlin to be blocked in the EU," the MEP threatens. At the same time, Mr. Weber still wants the channel of negotiations with the Russian Federation to remain open despite the increased pressure.
This reservation suggests that the viewpoint of the German Christian Democrat coincides with that of Germany's President, Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who simultaneously demanded the immediate release of Navalny, accusing Russia of international delinquency in the realm of human rights protection, and made no secret of his desire to improve relations with Russia. "We must openly criticize domestic relations in Russia, although looking for common ground in terms of foreign policy in order to turn a bad present into a better future," the president said in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper. By the way, when commenting upon the expulsion from Russia of European diplomats who violated the Russian law, Chancellor Angela Merkel called it unfair and a long way short of complying with the principles of the rule of law in a constitutional state. The leader of the Federal Republic of Germany also said the following to this effect: "We reserve the right to impose personal sanctions."
But at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel made it clear that new anti-Russian sanctions of the European Union are possible in the case of Navalny, but should in no way concern the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, stressing that "it is strategically imperative to maintain dialogue with Russia on many geostrategic issues." Incidentally, Emmanuel Macron emphasized the need for a "sovereign European energy strategy" and the importance of close German-French coordination on this all but accomplished project.
Apparently, Angela Merkel, being undoubtedly a highly experienced diplomat and negotiator, is quite satisfied and even inspired by foreign policy goals that new US President Joe Biden outlined in his recent speech on the issue. While the Kremlin regarded his intentions towards Russia as an "aggressive and unconstructive rhetoric", the new US administration's promises to restore allied relations within NATO, particularly a possible revision of the prospect to partially withdraw American armed forces from Germany, were balm to Merkel's heart wounded by Trump's unpredictability. Sort of a "honeymoon".
It is also vital for Germany that Joe Biden is ready to discuss compromises on the introduction of the Nord Stream 2. One can imagine that Angela Merkel, as she has already promised, will support Biden in many of his endeavors if, owing to the supply of cheap natural gas from Russia, she manages to maintain Germany's leadership position in Europe, as well as economic stability and jobs. At the same time, the German authorities keep claiming they will never step down from their desire to complete Nord Stream-2. But everyone here understands perfectly well that a compromise with the United States on the gas pipeline is much more attractive than any confrontation with overseas "friends and partners". As for sanctions against Russia, why not to introduce them? An excuse can always be found. By the way, the EU summit plans to discuss the strategy of relations with Russia as soon as in March. But I have a feeling that it won't yield any improvements. They certainly need our gas and are also interested in our Sputnik V vaccine, but there is something wrong with human rights in our country, even if we deem the person in question a swindler. Thus, they think sanctions are vital.