Former German chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview with German news outlet Der Spiegel defended her policy towards Russia and said her stance on Ukraine during the Minsk peace talks bought Kyiv time to fight Russia better.
Merkel said she ran out of power to influence Russian President Vladimir Putin towards the final phase of her chancellorship. The former German chancellor said she tried to arrange talks between European partners, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron in the summer of 2021.
She said everyone knew that she would be gone in autumn. “Really everyone knew: in autumn she’ll be gone. In terms of power politics you’re finished (and) for Putin, only power counts,” Merkel was quoted as saying by news agency Der Spiegel.
Merkel pointed out that in a significant move, Putin decided to bring along with him Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. Her previous meetings with Putin were one-to-one.
Following the launch of Russia’s so-called ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, Merkel and other EU leaders faced criticism for not adopting a tougher stance on Putin and Russia.
The BBC in a report said that a foreign policy expert from Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party, MP Roderich Kiesewetter, was among those who felt Merkel was aware that Putin was trying to split and weaken Europe but still relied on ‘soft power’. Kiesewetter also said Germany was too dependent on Russian gas before the invasion.
The Minsk talks led to a ceasefire deal after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and sparked a proxy war in the Donbas region. However, key objectives like disarmament and international supervision were not implemented.
Merkel said she doesn’t regret leaving office in December because she felt her government failed to make progress on Ukraine and also on other conflicts like Moldova, Georgia, Syria and Libya, all of which involved Russia.
The BBC report pointed out that Merkel, like Putin, has direct experience of life in communist East Germany. Merkel lived in east Germany for several years and Putin served as a Soviet KGB officer, doing secret intelligence work in east Germany. Putin is a fluent speaker of German while Merkel speaks some Russian.
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