Greece’s troubling pivot to Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speak during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the leader of Greece did not ask for financial aid during an official visit, easing speculation that Athens might use its relations with Moscow to gain advantage in bailout talks with European creditors. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

The news that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has gone to Moscow to seek financial help and foster closer ties to Russia is a warning that current German policies, no matter how much financial sense they make, are creating dangerous political problems in Europe.

Germany should loosen its purse strings. Its unyielding demand that Greece meet its obligations to the European Union are providing an opening to Russia to meddle in Europe.

By strictly adhering to its traditional fiscal conservatism, Germany weakens the EU and NATO at a time when Western solidarity is the only credible deterrent to Russian expansion.

Europe is already weaker because of the new Greek government, which is threatening to veto European Union sanctions on Russia imposed when Moscow in effect invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea.

Now Mr. Tsipras, a member of the hard left whose election was a protest against the austerity imposed on Greece by lenders led by Germany, is dangling the prospect of giving Russia “assets” in exchange for financial help.

A nervous reaction should occur in Washington and Berlin. Russia considers NATO a hostile organization and would welcome an opportunity to do it damage. Greece is a member of NATO and host to a number of important NATO installations, including a naval base in Crete. The vagueness of the Greek offer of “assets” raises questions about the kind of deal Mr. Tsipras may be discussing with Vladimir Putin.

Angela Merkel is widely admired for her strong leadership and fiscally conservative values. But she should realize that her fiscal policies, no matter how popular in Germany, now threaten the security of Europe. The Greek threat of doing a deal with Mr. Putin must not be taken lightly.