From the Jamestown Foundation: [Former Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder’s essay invokes U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiatives toward Russia to justify by analogy Germany’s own special relationship with Moscow (Schroeder’s close ally, incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also uses this argument). Claiming that the United States and Russia are now embarking on a bilateral ‘partnership of equals,’ Schroeder finds justification for Germany to pursue a similar course of its own. He does not, however, claim equal status for Germany with Russia; rather, he calls for a ‘trust-based’ German relationship with Russia (a variation on Steinmeier’s ‘we should take the Russian president at his word’), implying unilateral German trust in a Russia deemed to hold stronger cards.
This strategic partnership’s ramifications have reached by now from business into the geopolitics of Europe’s East. As Schroeder makes clear, this means ruling out Ukraine’s and Georgia’s NATO candidacies (as Merkel did already in the spring of 2008). It may even allow a degree of erosion to the status quo in Central Europe, as Schroeder implies in urging the Obama administration to ‘not allow itself to be influenced’ by the recent appeal from former leaders of Central European countries (EDM, July 22). For its part, he concludes, ‘Germany must hold firmly to its strategic partnership [with Russia] and build it up’ (Handelsblatt, July 23) . . .
On the whole, the notion of strategic partnership remains poorly defined at the political level for now. On the German side it is mainly based on business interests and supported in varying degrees, or at least accepted, across German party lines, with little reflection on the wider strategic implications. In practice, however, this relationship has reached the point of overriding Germany’s ties with some of Germany’s Euro-Atlantic allies – admittedly in an often-divided alliance.