‘Russians at the doorstep’: US says Germany must ‘use its leverage’ to keep Kremlin in line

‘Russians at the doorstep’: US says Germany must ‘use its leverage’ to keep Kremlin in line
The US ambassador to Germany says Berlin needs to escalate its stand-off with Russia by investing more in weapons, and pressuring it over energy links. Moscow believes that Germany won't submit to American "blackmail.”

“The Germans have the leverage with Russia. Imagine if Chancellor Merkel stood up and said: Because of the Russian behavior, because of the malign activity in the increased offense, we cannot give you more influence by buying your energy,” Richard Grenell, a career diplomat who was assigned to Germany last year, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

The current White House administration has persistently urged Angela Merkel’s government to restrict or halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which is due to be completed later this year.

So far, Germany, the biggest EU consumer of Russian gas, has stood firm, preferring to keep politics out of the project, even as European officials and Paris have threatened to put new limitations on it in the past month.

Grenell also reiterated Donald Trump’s frequent calls for higher defense spending, which have met with resistance among local politicians.

“NATO asks for 2% by 2024. Germany’s NATO promise to raise defense spending to 1.5 percent is not enough,” he said. “It is not US standards that have to be met here, but NATO commitments that Berlin has already agreed to and capabilities that they’ve already signed up for."

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Despite media speculation that the US president is using these conditions as a pretext to weaken American involvement, Grenell said that Washington is “in fact deepening [the transatlantic] relationship by recognizing that it needs to be reformed in some areas.”

And the purported threat from the East should be the unifying factor.

“The US is simply reminding its great German ally that now is not the time to undercut or weaken NATO. With the Russians at the doorstep, it should be clear to everyone that NATO needs strengthening instead,” the diplomat said.

Trump’s brashness has mixed badly with Merkel’s cautious policymaking, “but American style has always been different from the European one,” according to Grenell, who did not rebuff the journalist who called the White House approach to its allies “shock therapy.”

“I understand that whoever is the one that turns off the music at a party and says ‘Can we clean up?’ is not popular because everyone prefers to relax and dance,” Grenell said, adding that he was a “pushy” operative.

'This is nonsense'

Senior Russian lawmakers appeared distinctly unimpressed with the US ambassador's display of verbal bravura.

"Evidently, the US believes that it is Russian gas that is standing at the doorstep of Germany. This is nonsense. It doesn't serve the US well to be making such statements," the deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Vladimir Dzhabarov, told RT.

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The senator added that "Berlin won't fall for such blackmail."

His counterpart in the lower chamber of Russian parliament, Dmitry Novikov, said that he believes the US is simply trying to exacerbate the cool relations between Washington and Moscow, even if its calls have no practical effect.

"These ideas pour oil on the fire of the international situation, and strengthen the anti-Russian feeling, not just in the United States, but also in Europe," the first deputy of the international affairs committee of the Duma said to RT.