Merkel: ‘Nothing To Apologize,’ Defending Her Russia Record

Angela Merkel

Merkel emphasizes in her first interview since stepping down in December that she has “nothing to apologize for” in terms of her trade and diplomatic relations with Russia.

Even as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine throws a shadow over her legacy, former German chancellor Angela Merkel defended her record on Russia, claiming she has “nothing to apologize for.”

Angela Merkel said she had not been foolish in her relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom she saw on a regular basis throughout her 16 years in power.

In her first big interview since standing down six months ago, the 67-year-old added, “Diplomacy isn’t wrong just because it hasn’t worked.”

She remembered her support for economic penalties on Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as German-French efforts to keep the Minsk peace process in Ukraine alive.

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The conservative ex-chancellor remarked, “I don’t have to blame myself for not trying hard enough.”

“I don’t see that I have to say ‘that was wrong’ and that’s why I have nothing to apologise for.”

In an interview with Der Spiegel writer Alexander Osang, she dismissed charges that she was incorrect to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO in 2008, stating that Ukraine was too divided at the time and that membership would have been interpreted as a “declaration of war” by Putin.

“That wasn’t the Ukraine we know today … The country was not stable, it was riddled with corruption,” s he praised President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his wartime leadership.

Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker, also defended her economic approach with Russia, claiming that Europe and Russia were neighbors who couldn’t ignore one another.

She stated that she had wrestled with concerns concerning the former Soviet Union throughout her presidency, but that it was impossible to end the Cold War.

Merkel said that the 2014-2015 Minsk peace agreements, which were viewed at the time as the best option to cease combat between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine, had “brought some calm” and allowed Ukraine time to develop as a democracy and improve its military.

Merkel continued, “The courage and passion with which they are fighting for their country is very impressive.”