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As much good as Merkel did, her policy (continued by current PM Scholz) to take a "two track" approach to Russia, with politics on one track and economics on the other, was probably her biggest mistake. Problem is you can't separate the two and autocrats can manipulate this. But here's why it's the perfect time for Russia to invade:
The Social Democrats, including Scholz, were so reluctant to mention taking Nord Stream 2 off the table because their party is literally invested in it and tied to it. They've defended some irresponsible deals with Russia and Chinas Belt and Road Initiative in the name of profit.
The new German government is divided on this, and the Greens are tougher on Russia and China. You have 3 divided parties, and members of the coalition who still want the economic benefits and the two track policy. Even conflicts of interest in some cases. A new and divided government plays into Russian hands.
On top of that, Germany announced its plans to quickly pivot to green energy. They decommissioned their nuclear plants and are phasing out coal, but wind and renewables will take a long time to make up for that. Worse, they don't have the infrastructure in place for liquid natural gas (LPG / LNG) to be imported from Western allies, which also takes years to develop.
Natural gas is called a transitional energy to green energy for a reason and Germany put itself in an extremely vulnerable situation, even more beholden to Russian gas than before. Should have been replacing nuclear plants with more modern ones and installing liquid natural gas infrastructure years ago.
You're right that Eastern Europe wasn't buying Russias bs and many opposed Nord Stream 2 from the outset.
Russia has also slowly been working to taper itself off the dollar, protecting itself from sanctions, and moving closer to China.
The US got out of Afghanistan and generally planned to pivot away from Europe and the Middle East, towards southeast Asia and countering Chinese expansionism. This has pulled the US back to some degree, diverted diplomacy as well as military forces. Many analysts speculated that Russia and China were playing a game of diverting Americas attention, essentially making it fight this new cold War on two fronts.
Ukraine can't currently join NATO, even aside from the conflict with Russia, for several years at least until their corruption issues are worked out.
Putin (as anyone who listens to his speeches knows) still sees things through a Soviet lens. He's getting old, and probably sees this as the best chance he's going to get to retake former Soviet areas and parts of their sphere of influence that he believes aren't sovereign states but stolen Russian territory. And to create a buffer zone against the west.
This section is about how Putin carried out FSB false flag bombings killing hundreds of Russians in their sleep to win the presidency. You can skip to the links at the end or just read the Wikipedia and draw your own conclusions.
This is a man who was polling at 2% and was a mostly unknown former FSB director, had the FSB carry out a series of false flag apartment bombings, killing hundreds of his own people in Moscow and elsewhere. Then vowed to bomb the shit out of the Chechens (scapegoats) and his popularity soared as a result.
I know false flag gets thrown around a lot but this one was exposed and fell apart in so many ways that there's a mountain of evidence. See my recent post for a summary, which doesn't even include all of the evidence proving the FSB carried out the attacks. And Putin was head of the FSB in the months prior when it would have planned.
I'm surprised American politicians (from both parties) only mention this from time to time, every few years or so. Now we hear directly from the Americans about plans for a false flag involving crisis actors and videos, and potentially killing their own people to justify invasion. What's not talked about is that's exactly how Putin got into office, and that false flag was so obvious that even the Russian public and press knew it was Russian intelligence.
By the way all those assassinations and poisonings and dissidents you've heard of in the news are directly tied to the Russian false flag in 1999 in some way. Either involved in it or trying to expose it like Navalny and Litvinenko. Click on the list of people alleged to be involved or trying to expose it and see where they are now (hint: assassinated, poisoned, imprisoned).
Short summary of 1999 Russian apartment bombing false flag:
40 minute doc:
10 minute video summary:
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