Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 9 News List

German warship can send signal to allies and China

By Leonid Bershidsky  /  Bloomberg Opinion

At the same time, Germany would not be taking on much risk. Although China always voices strong objections when Western ships pass through the Taiwan Strait, which, along with Taiwan itself, it regards as its own, the probability that a NATO ship would be attacked with deadly force there is low. China has enough on its hands fighting a trade war with the US without adding a military conflict to it. It does not need simultaneous trouble with the EU, either.

Germany has much more of an interest in the safety and sovereignty of Ukraine, a country that aspires to EU membership, than in what happens in the South China Sea. It has an ongoing, though recently neglected, role in mediating Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

However, Germany would not try to send its warships into the Sea of Azov to help free up Ukrainian ports, which are under pressure from the Russian navy. There, the possibility of a deadly clash would be much higher than in the Taiwan Strait.

Still, even symbolic gestures matter. If a German ship does sail to the Taiwan Strait, Germany’s NATO partners should not dismiss the move as meaningless. Rather, they should see it as a promise that Germany will remain true to its alliances.

Just don’t demand too much of it now.

Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion’s Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion Web site Slon.ru. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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