German-Russian Relations: Balance Sheet since 2000 and Perspectives until 2025 Note du Cerfa, n° 98, October 2012
The relationship between Germany and Russia, according to official portrayals in Berlin, is one of ‘strategic partnership’ supplemented by ‘modernisation partnership’. The closeness and at times demonstrative cordiality of the relations have given rise to suspicion about Germany being an advocate of Russian interests in Europe for the benefit of its economy but at the expense of Europe’s trans-Atlantic links.
In particular, concerns have been expressed that Berlin was neglecting the interests of the smaller Eastern and East-Central European states, including those of the Baltic countries. Germany’s Russia policies have also been criticised on the grounds that Berlin had ignored the more authoritarian direction Russian domestic politics and the more assertive stance the country has adopted in foreign policy under Putin, placing narrow German economic interests first and rating European values second. However, such perceptions are to some extent at least outdated. The ‘special relationship’ is no longer so special. Disappointment and frustration have increasingly affected the relations. With Putin back in office as president and with his foreign policy resuming its assertive Great Power character, disaffection, alienation and competition rather than amicable partnership are likely to characterize future relations.
Hannes Adomeit is currently teaching at the European Interdisciplinary Studies Department of Natolin (Warsaw). Until December 2007 he was Senior Research Associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin, in charge of Russian Affairs. He was also Professor for International Politics and Director of the Program on Russia and East-Central Europe at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston and Fellow at the Harvard Russian Research Center.