German public rejects Nato mutual defence
A survey published by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday showed that the majority of Germans would be against their country using military means to defend a Nato ally against Russian aggression.
Despite the notion that an attack on one is an attack on all being enshrined as Clause 5 in the Nato Charter, 58 percent of Germans said they would be against helping a Nato member on the border with Russia militarily.
Only 38 percent of Germans said they would agree with the triggering of clause 5 under such circumstances.
The survey was carried out in several of the key Nato members including the United Kingdom, USA and France as well as in Ukraine and Russia.
The German answer to this question was significantly out of line with the majority of Nato members, where and average of 48 percent said they would be in favour of military support.
Like many of those surveyed in other Nato member states the German public assumes the USA would step in to defend a NATO partner under such circumstances. Sixty eight percent of Germans said they believed the USA would use its military strength to defend a Nato ally, exactly in line with the European average.
The survey also shows a significant drop in enthusiasm for Nato. Whereas in 2009 73 percent of Germans said they had a favourable opinion of the military alliance, this number has dropped to 55 percent in 2015. In no other Nato country did the survey find such drop in trust in the alliance.
Germans are also fairly split over whom they attribute blame to for the Ukraine crisis. 29 percent say that Russia is to blame while 25 percent say that the pro-Russian separatists are responsible. 12 percent meanwhile say that the west is responsible.
A large majority of Germans are in favour of economic support to the Ukrainian government (71 percent) although far fewer support delivering weapons to Kiev (19 percent.)
A majority of Germans also reject both Nato membership and EU membership for Ukraine, at 57 percent and 54 percent respectively.
There were also significant differences in attitudes between east and west Germany in evidence. While 19 percent of west Germans have a positive opinion of Vladimir Putin this number rises to 40 percent for east Germans.
Just over a quarter of west Germans meanwhile would like to see sanctions against Russia lifted, whereas 42 percent of east Germans said the same.
And 40 percent of west Germans would be prepared to help a Nato member militarily if it were attacked by Russia, while only 28 percent of east Germans feel the same way.