“I didn’t have the strength to push myself anymore”

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel looked back on her Russia and Ukraine policy in a Der Spiegel report. At the end of her term, she no longer saw any possibility of influencing Russian President Vladimir Putin, the CDU politician said.

US President Joe Biden and Putin met in the summer of 2021. At that time, the Minsk agreement was “emptied”, Merkel said. She wanted to “create an independent European discussion format with Putin again with Emmanuel Macron in the Council of the EU”. However, this did not happen.

As it became clear that she would no longer be Chancellor of Germany a few months later, her influence waned. “I no longer had the strength to push myself because everyone knew: It will be gone in the fall,” Merkel told the magazine.

The feeling was very clear: in terms of power politics, you passed. Putin only cares about power.

Angela Merkel

Instead, she asked others in the EU Council. Unsuccessful. “One said: This is too big for me. The other just shrugged: That’s what adults have to do. If I were to race again in September, I would keep working hard.”

The same thing happened to her during her last visit to Putin in August 2021. “The feeling was very clear: In terms of power politics, you are finished. Putin only cares about power. On this last visit, he also brought his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov with him, otherwise we often met privately,” Merkel recalled.

The ex-chancellor was also asked if she regretted not running again. She said no.

“Someone new had to do it. It was overripe at home. And in terms of foreign policy, in the end I didn’t get an inch further, even with so many things that we tried over and over again. Not only regarding Ukraine. Transnistria and Moldova, Georgia and Abkhazia, Syria and Libya. It’s time for a new approach.”

In her assessment of Putin, she agreed with the then US President Barack Obama. “After Russia’s annexation of Crimea (2014), we tried everything to prevent further Russian attacks on Ukraine and coordinated our sanctions in detail.”

The Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022 ended the “euphoric phase” in history. “Today we are facing a world that is once again full of complications,” Merkel said.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but I’m afraid patterns do. Horror disappears with eyewitnesses. But the spirit of reconciliation is also disappearing.’

Merkel stepped down in December 2021 after 16 years. Her successor is Olaf Scholz. The former chancellor has rarely appeared in public since her departure. (with Reuters)

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