The former Chancellor does not want to be seen as naive in her Russia policy. The Minsk peace agreement was only intended to give Ukraine more time to strengthen, Merkel explained in an interview. Kremlin chief Putin laments a lack of honesty.
In the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, an "agreement" must be reached to end the conflict in Ukraine. "Confidence is of course almost at zero (...), but ultimately an agreement must be reached," Putin said at the summit of the Eurasian Economic Union in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. "I have said many times that we are ready and open to an agreement," he added.
Putin said in Bishkek that he was "disappointed" by Merkel's statements. He had "always assumed that the German government would act honestly," he added. "After such statements, the question arises: How can we come to an agreement? And is there someone with whom one can come to an agreement? What guarantees are there?" said Putin. Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The Minsk Agreement, concluded in 2015, provided a roadmap for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. However, Putin annexed Crimea in 2014.
Merkel has recently justified her policy towards Russia and Ukraine several times. The Russian attack on Ukraine did not come as a surprise, Merkel told Der Spiegel at the end of November. "The Minsk Agreement was hollowed out." In the summer of 2021, she and French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to create "an independent European discussion format" with Putin. "But I no longer had the strength to assert myself because everyone knew that she would be gone in the fall."
Merkel officially left office in December 2021. The previous August she had traveled to Moscow to see Russian President Putin on a farewell visit. "The feeling was very clear: 'In terms of power politics, you're through.'" Merkel told the magazine. "Only power counts for Putin."