And defense for free (from Dire Straits, sort of).
Our German Ally: Tanking.
Putin has given any number of reasons (all of them nonsense) to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One of them was that Russia was “threatened” by NATO’s expansion. That is, to put it mildly, unconvincing. Russia’s grumbling about Ukrainian independence dates back to the Yeltsin era, long before (the special case of the vanished East Germany aside) NATO had expanded to include any countries in the former Soviet bloc.
A more convincing explanation (so far as the Kremlin’s attitude to NATO was concerned) was that Putin had seen the alliance’s weakness and concluded that it would present Moscow with no problems in the event that Russia took back control over its neighbor. An important reason why the Kremlin might have seen things that way was the position of Germany, a supposedly key member of NATO, but one that had a distinctly, uh, nuanced view of what membership of the alliance meant.
One obvious sign of that was the country’s neglect of its armed forces throughout Angela Merkel’s dismal chancellorship.