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Merkel says she had no power to dissuade Putin from invading Ukraine

BERLIN — Angela Merkel, who led Germany for 16 years, said her diminished political power nearing retirement had prevented her from organizing diplomatic talks aimed at dissuading Russian President Vladimir V. Putin from launch the full-scale invasion of Moscow. Ukraine in February.

In a lengthy interview published Thursday in Der Spiegel Magazine, Merkel explained that she and French President Emmanuel Macron had tried in the summer of 2021 to organize talks between European Union leaders and Mr. Putin to defuse Russian-Ukrainian tensions. but failed. Mrs. Merkel at that time had already announced her intention to retire.

“I no longer had the strength to assert myself because everyone knew: she would be gone in the fall,” she said.

She said she felt she was losing political clout before stepping down when dealing directly with Mr Putin. Recounting her last state visit to Moscow in August 2021, Ms Merkel noted that Mr Putin would not meet her alone, as he had done in the past, opting instead to include his foreign secretary.

“The sentiment was pretty clear: ‘In terms of power politics, you’re done’,” she said, adding that “for Putin, all that matters is power.”

Ms. Merkel, a former East German physicist who is fluent in Russian, knew Mr. Putin better than many other European leaders, in part because they had both ruled their respective countries for so long. When Mr Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine at the end of February, some analysts speculated that the timing was linked to Merkel’s retirement and the perceived instability of the European Union which caused it. resulted.

Olaf Scholz, who succeeded Ms Merkel as chancellor, visited Moscow in February – nine days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine. By then, Mr. Putin’s invasion plans were already in motion.

Merkel has previously distanced herself from criticism of Germany’s policy towards Russia during her 16-year tenure as chancellor and her country’s reliance on Russian energy.

She also insisted that diplomatic efforts to prevent the invasion of Ukraine were the right course of action at the time.

“Diplomacy is not wrong if it does not succeed.” she said in June, adding, “So I don’t see what I have to say: it was wrong, and therefore I won’t apologize.”

nytimes Gt

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