A fretful Eastern Europe is hoping Germany can play a key diplomatic role in its stare-down with Russia, the New York Times reports. Until recently, relations between Moscow and Berlin were too cozy for the Caucasus’ tastes, but East German-born Angela Merkel has distanced herself from Russia just enough to be a credible mediator, criticizing the country's leaders on democracy, press freedoms, and human rights.
Germany remains close enough to Russia, however, thanks to intertwined business interests. “Germany is the one country that can warn Russia,” one expert said. “Russia does listen to what Germany says.” Suspicious of Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili, and burdened with domestic issues in an election year, Merkel has resisted the mediator role up to now. But the invasion likely changed all that—Germany understands what’s at stake.