Germany’s ex-chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken openly about her troubled relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of her term. During her farewell visit to Moscow in August 2021, she felt: “In terms of power politics, you are done. Only power counts for Putin,” Merkel said in a media report.
In an interview with “Spiegel”, Merkel stressed that the Minsk agreement, which was supposed to prevent an escalation of a war between Russia and Ukraine in 2014, was “emptied” in 2021.
In the summer of 2021, she and French President Emmanuel Macron unsuccessfully tried to arrange an EU meeting with Putin. In terms of foreign policy, she had “not made an inch of progress. Not only in Ukraine. Transnistria and Moldova, Georgia and Abkhazia, Syria and Libya.” It was time for a new approach.
“We tried everything after the annexation of Crimea”
She agreed with then US President Barack Obama in his assessment of Putin. “After the annexation of Crimea by Russia (2014), we tried everything to prevent further Russian attacks on Ukraine and coordinated our sanctions in detail,” Merkel said.
She has been publicly criticized in recent weeks for not admitting mistakes in Russian policy over the past 16 years.
The Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022 ended a “euphoric phase” in history. “Today we face a world that is again full of complications,” Merkel said. “History does not repeat itself, but I fear that patterns do repeat themselves. The horror disappears with the eyewitnesses. But also the spirit of reconciliation disappears.”
Praise for the resistance of the Ukrainians
In the conversation, Merkel praised the resistance of the Ukrainians. She thinks that Germany should not be the first country to send state-of-the-art tanks, because “you can still make a good atmosphere with Germany” in Russia.
Respect to Kazakh president
At the same time, she expressed her respect for Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. On the open podium, he refused to support Putin’s war. “It takes incredible strength, I think, for a man like that to defend himself against Russia.”
Something is happening in Central Asia in view of Russia. At the same time, Merkel warned against making too high demands on foreign policy. “We have to be careful not to set the bar so high that in the end there will be no one left who can meet our requirements.”