Former German Chancellor admits her helplessness towards Russia

Angela Merkel, Photo: Getty Images

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had aimed to convene European talks with Vladimir Putin the year before his invasion of Ukraine but did not see any possibility of influencing the Russian strongman at the end of her term.

Merkel told the “Spiegel” news magazine in an interview published on Thursday that she and French President Emmanuel Macron had planned to hold an independent talk format with the Russian strongman within the European Council in 2021, her last summer in office.

“But I no longer had the strength to push through because, after all, everyone knew: she is leaving in autumn,” she said.

Ms Merkel, who retired from politics after 16 years in power following Germany’s September 2021 election, officially handed over the reins to Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats in December of that year.

Referring to her farewell visit to Moscow in August 2021, the former German chancellor, who speaks fluent Russian, told Spiegel: “The feeling was very clear: ‘In terms of power politics, you are through.’ For Putin, only power counts.”

’Everyone wants an apology’


Still, the former conservative leader said of her departure from politics that it had been “time for a new approach” due to a lack of progress by her government not just on Ukraine but also on conflicts in Moldova, Georgia, Syria and Libya.

In an editorial comment, the German daily “Spiegel” wrote that all Ms Merkel can do is “admit her mistakes, get down on her knees. Everyone wants an apology, especially for the policy towards Russia.”

“However, she, it seems, does not want to apologise because she does not know if she was really wrong. Will history ultimately prove her right?” the newspaper asked.

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