The name of the besieged, shelled and starving city of Mariupol had already become synonymous with the worst war crimes in Europe since World War II, when Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian television at the end of March that he still believed in a "bright future". for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The project is profitable for everyone involved, so the following applies: "Conflicts come and go, money stays."

Whether Putin's former presidential placeholder really believes that the Baltic Sea pipeline will still go into operation or whether that optimism was for propaganda purposes is irrelevant.

Medvedev's words are interesting because they reflect what, from the point of view of the Russian leadership, was an essential feature of German Russia policy: the willingness to put aside all fine words about democratic values, European solidarity and so on, as soon as there was enough money and interests of German corporations in play are.

Moscow kept the conflict boiling

Germany has played a fatal dual role in recent years.

On the one hand, the German government made a significant contribution to the fact that the EU reacted unanimously with sanctions to the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass started by Russia;

on the other hand, she damaged the credibility and thus also the effect of this reaction by advocating Nord Stream 2 more than any other EU member.

If German politicians want to learn lessons for the future from the history of the Russian attack on Ukraine, one thing must be clear: Nord Stream 2 was a serious mistake from the start - and not just "with today's knowledge", like Mecklenburg -Vorpommern Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) says.

When the agreement on the construction of the gas pipeline was signed in June 2015, it was just four months ago that the advance of Russian troops in the Donbass had been stopped in Minsk with a rotten compromise until further notice.

It was obvious that Moscow did not intend to honor the agreements, but instead kept the conflict simmering.

At the time, the Russian leadership said flatly that Nord Stream 2 was intended to bypass Ukraine.

The fact that Germany was nevertheless willing to deepen energy relations with Russia was taken in Moscow as a signal that the Germans would return to "business as usual" after a reasonable period of shame and, if necessary, sacrifice Ukraine.

This impression was reinforced in view of the steadfastness with which Berlin clung to the project over the years, despite repeated Russian provocations against Ukraine and protests from the United States and a large part of the EU partners.

If it had only been about economics, the arguments for the pipeline would have made sense.

But potential gains were offset by great political dangers.

Nord Stream 2 critics have consistently pointed out that the construction of the pipeline would not only result in financial losses for Ukraine, but also major security risks.

Proponents have refused to debate it, claiming it is a private sector project.

political blindness

That was absurd because no infrastructure project of this magnitude is apolitical.

And in the case of Nord Stream 2, there could be no doubt who the business partner was: an aggressive authoritarian regime that wanted to use the gas pipeline to gain leverage against Ukraine from which it had already taken territories by force.

Putin might have invaded Ukraine too if Nord Stream 2 had never been planned.

But with the political blindness with which the government and business in Germany made this project their own, they abetted this war.

They have reinforced Putin's disdain for European democracies and his expectation of winning this conflict.

Instead of working to strengthen resilience against the obvious challenge posed by the Kremlin, the government was prepared to increase dependency - and to exaggerate this fact as a peacekeeping "bridge between Russia and Europe" (Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier). .

Nord Stream 2 is now history.

The first lesson that Germany should learn from this story is to support the Ukrainian resistance actively, unbureaucratically and without hesitation.