Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her policy toward Russia during her 16-year presidency. “I will not apologize,” she said in her first major interview since her resignation in Berlin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Merkel, among others, of naivety and leniency in her relationship with Russia. She acknowledges that she could have been tougher on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. “But we can’t say that absolutely nothing was done,” it seems. She referred to Russia’s exclusion from the group of major industrialized nations (then the G8, now the G7) and to NATO’s decision that each country should spend 2% of GDP on defence. “I was not naive in my dealings with Russia,” Merkel stressed.
Merkel also defended her opposition to NATO’s eastward expansion to Ukraine and Georgia in 2008. If NATO had given the two countries the prospects of membership at the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin could have caused “serious damage to Ukraine,” she said. Merkel has stressed that Ukraine was “very judgmental and divided” in 2008, and that it is now a “different country”. “The thing is, I don’t have to blame myself for trying so little. It’s just a shame I didn’t succeed,” said the CDU politician.
The former chancellor strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Merkel said there were no excuses for this “brutal violation of international law”. She believes that countries cannot look back centuries in time to determine which territory they belong to. “Then we will only have a war.”
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