US Is "Wrong, Plain And Simple" On German-Russia Relations, Warns Schaeuble

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Speaking like a jilted girlfriend, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble exclaimed that "Russia needs Europe more than China to develop economy," following the signing of the 'holy grail' gas deal this week. But the German saved his sternest comments for his US "allies" as he explained discussions over sanctions and negotiations with Russia over Ukrains would "be even more successful if the United States understands that it is also part of the West."

Reflecting on the waning US influence and slamming US Congress delays over IMF reform, Schaeuble unleashed the following: "Perhaps now more of those in power in the United States will ask themselves: Why is America's soft power, even though it is the indispensable nation, not so great as to be understood by the dumb Germans?"

As the WSJ reports, Schaeuble reiterated "we won't seek military escalation, but we will of course use our political and diplomatic abilities to increase the pressure on Russia to abide by the rules."

 

As WSJ reports, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said his country is prepared to raise pressure on Russia to help stabilize Ukraine, sending a signal on the eve of Ukraine's presidential election that Europe's leading economic power isn't shy of confronting Moscow.

"We want good, partner-like relations," Mr. Schäuble said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. But he warned: "If Russia does not follow the rules, then we won't seek military escalation, but we will of course use our political and diplomatic abilities to increase the pressure on it to abide by the rules."

 

The veteran conservative minister, seen as Germany's second most powerful politician after Chancellor Angela Merkel, dismissed criticisms in the U.S. that Berlin's response to the Ukraine conflict is hostage to German business interests as "wrong, plain and simple."

 

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The Ukraine crisis is highlighting Germany's growing pains as it becomes a leader in geopolitics, Mr. Schäuble admitted. He called on the U.S. to work harder to win public trust in Europe.

 

"We, of course, need to make clear that we are part of the West," Mr. Schäuble said, in response to signs that many Germans don't fully support their country's Western alliance. "But we'll be even more successful if the United States understands that it is also part of the West."

 

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But he said it also reflected waning U.S. influence here, something that had to do with Washington's reluctance to ratify and uphold international agreements in areas including finance. He blamed the U.S. Congress for frustrating reform of the International Monetary Fund, for example.

 

"Perhaps now more of those in power in the United States will ask themselves: Why is America's soft power, even though it is the indispensable nation, not so great as to be understood by the dumb Germans?" Mr. Schäuble said.

 

He said Moscow's short-term tactical victories in Ukraine would backfire in the medium term, because it needs "partnership with Europe" to develop its economy, which he said is overly dependent on oil and gas exports and "much less diversified than it was in Soviet times."

But reflecting on Germany's lackluster popularity in Europe, he could not resist one more jab at Obama...

Popular dismay with the political establishment isn't unique to the EU, Mr. Schäuble said: "Are the approval ratings in the U.S. triumphal?"

With friends like that... who needs Russia