This Week in Germany: A U.S.-German Breach, Soaring German Popularity and Fidget Spinners

Germany Opposes Proposed U.S. Sanctions on Russia

This has been another rough week for German-American relations. On June 15, the United States Senate voted to impose new sanctions on Russia. These sanctions are unique in that they don’t just affect Russia—they aim to cut off energy links between Russia and Europe.

Despite German support for the last round of sanctions, Germany and Russia maintain a strong energy connection. Germany has become a major hub for Russian gas flowing into Europe. It means Germany depends of Russia for its gas, and much of the rest of Europe depends on Germany.

The sanctions aim to hinder this, and Germany isn’t happy. In a joint press release with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel strongly opposed the decision, accusing the U.S. of acting out of pure self-interest. Germany threatened on Friday to retaliate against America if it is hurt by these sanctions.

Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl Dies

Germany’s longest-running chancellor since Otto von Bismarck died on June 16, at the age of 87. The leader of Germany from 1982 to 1990, he is best known for his role in Germany’s reunification. The European Commission announced that it aimed to commemorate the visionary German chancellor in a grand ceremony.

Three Quarters of Europeans Have Positive Views of Germany

Germany continues to be popular in Europe, though a growing number of people believe that Germany is too strong. A Pew survey released on June 14, covering several nations across the European Union, found that 71 percent of respondents outside of Germany had a positive view of the country, with only 21 viewing Germany negatively. Greece was the one big exception, where 76 percent viewed Germany negatively. Despite the positive views, many say Germany has too much influence in the EU.

Germany Crushes 35 Tons of Fidget Spinners

On a bit of a lighter note, Germany’s popularity may increase further as it seeks to make the country safer for children. German authorities announced on June 16 that they would crush 35 tons of fidget spinners. They have seized huge numbers of the inexplicably popular children’s toys that don’t conform to EU safety laws, and will destroy them. Adults, especially teachers annoyed by the pointless toys, probably wish they were crushing a lot more.