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Chancellor Olaf Scholz won Germany’s election by emulating Angela Merkel’s steady, unexcitable approach to government. That inherent caution is beginning to look like a liability as he faces his first major international crisis.

Cast as the West’s weak link in deterring Russia, Scholz’s administration has rejected sending weapons to Ukraine and is holding out on allowing Estonia to transfer Cold War-era equipment to the country, despite more than 100,000 Russian troops massed near its border. Instead, Germany has offered to finance and train people for a field hospital and send over 5,000 protective helmets.

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