The chancellor’s first year in office has been defined by the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine
Last December, on becoming Germany’s first SPD chancellor for 16 years, Olaf Scholz asked aides whether there was a plan B for energy should Russia turn off the gas. The answer, Mr Scholz wrote in an essay published this month, was “no”.
So began a year during which the assumptions underlying decades of German prosperity were tested to destruction. Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, and his weaponisation of energy supplies, obliged Germany to simultaneously end its dependency on Russian gas and rethink a self-consciously low profile as a military power. Given the scale and moral urgency of the challenge – and Germany’s geopolitical importance – Mr Scholz’s sometimes unwieldy three-party coalition government has not got the international credit it deserves for stepping up to the plate.