Former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said Russia’s attack on Ukraine “didn’t come as a surprise”. The Minsk Agreements of 2014 and 2015, which agreed a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia, had been “hollowed out”, Merkel said. She told the German weekly on Thursday The Mirror in an extensive interview.

    Merkel, who was Chancellor for 15 years, has been accused of naivety in her handling of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions of conquest since the war in Ukraine. Merkel would have allowed Germany, and therefore Europe, to become too dependent on Russian gas. In the interview, she says she was unable to curb President Putin’s aggression.

    Merkel herself says nothing in the interview about the construction of the Nord Stream pipelines that run from Russia to Germany. The pipelines would have increased Germany’s dependence on Russian gas. Her old vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel defends Merkel’s role; according to him, the construction of the pipelines was ‘the result of the liberalization of the European energy market decided by the EU in 2002. Nobody wants to hear that anymore.”

    In the summer of 2021, Merkel attempted to set up de-escalating talks between herself, Putin, and French President Emmanuel Macron. According to the former chancellor, that was not possible because her last term was coming to an end. Neither Putin nor other European leaders gave her a chance to “assert herself” in talks with Russia. “For Putin, only power counts,” Merkel said in the interview.

    It is the second time since the Russian invasion that Merkel has spoken out about the war on such a large platform. In June of this year she called the war “barbaric”. Other than that, she’s mostly kept quiet so far.

    This article is also part of our live blog: Invasion of Ukraine was ‘no surprise’, says Merkel in interview