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Germany should state clearly, immediately, and unequivocally, that it will support expulsion of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system if Russia invades Ukraine. Germany’s ambivalence on this point has greatly diluted the deterrent force of threats to adopt this measure.
Germany should also state unequivocally, and immediately, that if Putin invades Ukraine, it will kill the Nordstream II gas pipeline project and will never authorize it to operate in its territory.
Germany, which was responsible for the collapse of the international legal order beginning in 1938, owes the world at least these two measures.
Politically and financially, these steps will not be easy to take. Germany now stands at the center of the world stage, with a potentially decisive voice in Putin’s calculations.
International law and international order require sacrifices. These, however, are minimal when compared to the sacrifices of war.
It is time for leaders in many countries to wake up to what is going on and to what the stakes are, and to take Russia’s threat of launching a major European war to the United Nation Security Council. They need not wait further on the foreign policy leadership of the U.S. Great Britain, or France, Ukraine, or any member of Security Council, or the Secretary General of the U.N., can call for an Emergency Meeting. This they can do at any time, but the right time is now.
Such action would complement diplomatic efforts currently being led by the U.S. Britain, in particular, and also Germany, seem to have a better understanding of the U.N. Charter and international law than do current leaders in the United States.