The West is not enough.
1. Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday oversaw the first test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that he said would make those threatening his country “think twice,” in his latest nuclear saber-rattling since launching his war in Ukraine. Since sending Russian troops into the neighboring country in late February, Mr. Putin has repeatedly raised the threat of nuclear war in an effort to deter the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from getting involved in the conflict. (Source: wsj.com)
2. Earlier today, Mr. Putin said Russia has “liberated” Ukraine’s Mariupol, apart from the massive Azovstal steel plant, which he ordered blockaded, not stormed. Kyiv has called for urgent talks to save the lives of the fighters and civilians in Mariupol; limited civilian evacuations went ahead Wednesday and will continue. The situation in Ukraine’s east and south remains difficult, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his address to the nation Wednesday night, as Russian forces push on with stepped-up offensives. (Source: bloomberg.com)
3. Talk of a full-scale embargo on Russian energy is spreading panic in Germany, which until the war received 55 per cent of its imported gas from Russia. The fear is that any sudden gas shut-off could paralyze large parts of the country’s industry. Martin Brudermüller, chief executive of the chemicals group BASF, says it would plunge German business into its “worst crisis since the second world war.” In early April, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Bundestag that Germany’s energy reliance on Russia had “grown over decades and cannot be ended from one day to the next”. All of the country’s big parties agree with him. But that view could become increasingly indefensible as the war in Ukraine progresses. The mounting evidence of war crimes committed by Russian troops in places such as Bucha and the launch of a major new Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region this week are raising the pressure on all European countries to at least consider a gas import ban — and Germany is no exception. Meanwhile, Germany also faces the risk that Russia could itself retaliate against western sanctions by unilaterally stopping the flow of gas to Europe. Either way, Berlin is facing a scenario unthinkable even a few weeks ago — a gas supply shock that would force it to ration energy to industry and could shutter some of the country’s largest factories. (Source: ft.com)
While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is acting behind the scenes against Ukraine, he is pretending to be a loyal member of the western alliance. His double-game is now turning into a crisis within the coalition. Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck have been trying to keep the lid on this, cautiously supporting Scholz's position in contrast to their own previous loud support of weapons deliveries.
But other Green politicians are not so kind to Scholz. Anton Hofreiter, head of the European committee in the Bundestag, has warned that Scholz' hesitation has increased the danger that the war in Ukraine would turn into World War III. He accused Scholz of working behind the scenes to frustrate economic sanctions and weapons deliveries. Hofreiter is one the Green Party’s top politicians. He was overlooked for a cabinet post. As a prominent member of the party’s left, he is now in a unique position to criticize the government.
Is it possible that the government might fall over this? We noted the first hints that this might happen, though we think we are still a few accidents away from this. Ironically, it is now up to Friedrich Merz, the opposition leader and CDU chairman, to test the coalition's cohesion. His party is currently pondering whether to launch a formal vote in the Bundestag in favor of heavy weapons deliveries to Ukraine. That would put the coalition on the spot. Various Green and FDP politicians might support the move. (Source: eurointelligence.com)
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