Trump, Merkel, and Putin

Thursday, December 17, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00 am EST // 16:00 - 17:00 CET

Lessons and Legacies for Transatlantic Cooperation toward Russia

Under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, transatlantic relations deteriorated significantly. Many analysts argued that this is particularly the case for a core issue – German-American security cooperation toward Russia. A mutual approach by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel had been instrumental in organizing an effective transatlantic response after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Signs abound for the subsequent weakening of this German-American cooperation: President Trump’s public derision of Angela Merkel, his apparent dislike of NATO and the EU, his frequent praise for Vladimir V. Putin, and his oft-stated goal to “get along with Russia” despite its numerous infractions. But has German-American security cooperation toward Russia weakened under President Trump? And if so, to what extent is this due to his idiosyncratic personality and worldview, rather than to structural forces? Looking forward to a new Biden presidency, reliable answers to these questions give important clues for the future of transatlantic security cooperation.

The webinar will provide an overview of how German-American security cooperation toward Russia developed before and during the Trump presidency. It will zero in on developments in most salient subcategories – public rhetoric, multilateral diplomacy, sanctions, force deployment, doctrine, and policies toward Ukraine. The presenter and attendees will then evaluate the role of structural and personal factors in these developments and identify implications for the future of transatlantic security cooperation and the incoming Biden administration.


Jonas Driedger is DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow in fall 2020. He is a political scientist from Germany, specializing in the foreign and security policies of Russia, Germany, and the European Union. Thematically, he focuses on international security, deterrence, and the causes of armed conflict. Mr. Driedger is a Doctoral Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. In his dissertation, he assesses the causes of peace and armed conflict between major powers and nearby states with inferior military capabilities. A College of Europe graduate, he was an Alfa Fellow and Visiting Researcher at the Moscow Higher School of Economics. He taught and did fieldwork in Germany, Italy, Ukraine, and Russia. Apart from his academic publications, Jonas contributed analyses and policy advice in German, Russian, and English, including to the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the Oxford University Changing Character of War Centre, Politico Europe, The National Interest, EUObserver, and EurActiv. His recent article, “Will Russia intervene in Belarus?” was published by the EUIdeas blog.

This webinar will convene via Zoom. Please contact Elizabeth Caruth at ecaruth@aicgs.org with any questions.