Germany has the most unequal distribution of wealth in the eurozone. In this sense, Germany faces the same challenge as China: a high-export and saving economy which needs to rebalance through policies that create a greater flow of wealth to households, thus spurring greater consumption. This, in turn, can create demand for imports from Germany's European neighbors.
Around 40 percent of Russia's trade is with Western Europe. Even if Russia fails to retaliate by itself imposing counter-sanctions -- an unrealistic assumption -- its weaker economy would quickly translate into lower sales by Western European companies to the world's eighth largest economy, as well as less certain input supplies from there.
The paradox of this historical moment is that we see across the world -- in Ukraine, Egypt, Thailand, Turkey -- that elections in and of themselves are not the standard of legitimacy. Only strong institutions can sustain democracy. But institutions alone without democratic legitimacy conferred upon them, as we see in the European Union, are also not sustainable.