• Germany's news in English

Has Merkel's Russia policy failed?

The Local · 28 Aug 2014, 16:13

Published: 28 Aug 2014 16:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Karl-Georg Wellmann, a foreign policy expert for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Thursday Russian troop movements in Ukraine showed Russia was trying to establish a land strip in the south of the country via Odessa to the breakaway republic of Transnistria in Moldova.

He called for further sanctions against Russia and more Nato troops to be stationed in eastern member states.

“Russia is showing itself to be a country which doesn’t adhere to European norms and uses military force to achieve foreign policy objectives,” he told Handelsblatt Online.

Merkel, who held a conference in Berlin on Thursday on the west Balkans, earlier called for an explanation from Russia's President Vladimir Putin amid the reports of an incursion by Russian soldiers.

Russia has responded by denying an invasion, but Nato believes at least 1,000 Russian troops are operating in the country. Pro-Russian separatists are now making gains in the south of Ukraine, opening up a second front in the war.

Ulrich Speck, a visiting scholar at think-tank Carnegie Europe, said Russia’s latest move showed the failure of Merkel’s policy towards Russia.

“She was pretending that both sides were not much more than concerned neighbours. In combination with sanctions, this was supposed to provide Putin with an exit option - the possibility to step back and to accept that he cannot 'own' Ukraine,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The West hasn't much choice but to step up sanctions. The US and the EU have from the beginning ruled out military involvement on the side of Ukraine. Economic pressure is the only tool it has.

“And the German approach now looks like a failure. It was worth trying nevertheless. And it may have minimized Russian involvement in the last months, it may have led Putin to take a low profile.

“But given the latest developments on the ground, to pretend that Russia is nothing but a concerned neighbor starts to become impossible.

“Putin wants back control over Ukraine, or at least prevent the emergence of a successful, democratic, western-oriented neighbour.

Story continues below…

“The West has no Plan B. Merkel's tactics of using carrots and sticks had the great advantage that it was 'sellable' domestically: to her coalition partner in Germany, the SPD, and in the EU to countries like France, Spain and Italy which are muss less concerned about Russian neo-imperialism than Germany or Poland is.

“A more robust tactic by contrast won't fly in Germany or in the EU. Everything that looks as if it increases the risk of direct military confrontation with Russia is going to be vetoed immediately.” 

Nato is holding a summit in Wales next week where it will discuss its response to the crisis. Merkel is expected to attend along with leaders and ministers from 60 other countries. 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd