“Sabre-rattling and war-mongering” was not the way to treat Russia

An extraordinary demarche came at the weekend from the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he accused Nato – an alliance, lest we forget, of which Germany is a member – of “sabre-rattling and war-mongering” by staging military manoeuvres close to Russia’s borders. This, he said, was not the way to treat Russia; it was time to restart dialogue.

Steinmeier is a cautious politician, and it is unlikely that he uttered those words without at least tacit support from chancellor Angela Merkel. Which suggests that between the European members of Nato there is sharp disagreement about how to handle Russia: whether punitive isolation or engagement is the better course.

Isolating Russia isn’t working. The west needs a new approach