Chancellor Merkel speaks Russian and has an East German background. "We Germans have a closer connection and affection for Russia than any other country," says Andreas Schockenhoff, deputy whip in the Bundestag for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats. "We can build a bridge between the West and Russia, and end Russia's isolation."
So what happened when the UN voted on air strikes of Libya? Chancellor Merkel decided that Germany should side with China and Russia and abstain. You might ask why would a democratic country like Germany pall up with a communist, one-party dictatorship and a country with a dubious track record on human rights - what were they thinking? As a concession to appease Germany's allies, they have made a commitment to supply surveillance air flights over Afghanistan which will free up coalition aircraft for operations in Libya.
Is Germany slowly drifting even further away from France, Britain, the US and the EU? The Gaddafi regime has recently praised Germany's position which should cause deep embarrassment for Berlin - and so it should - you have to choose your friends very carefully.