Angela Merkel breaks her silence on Ukraine, calls Russia’s war ‘barbaric’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a joint press conference with the Ukrainian President following their talks at the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, on August 22, 2021.

Sergey Dolzenko | AFP | Getty Images

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in her first public address since leaving office in December last year.

In the introduction to her comments by saying that she did not want advice from the sidelines, Merkel called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “barbaric war of aggression” that constituted a “far-reaching turning point” and “the most flagrant violation of international law”. In Europe since World War II.

“My solidarity is with Ukraine, which was attacked and raided by Russia,” the former leader said at a German union event in Berlin on Wednesday night, adding that Ukraine’s right to self-defense is indisputable.

Merkel, who has led Germany for 16 years, has come under intense scrutiny in the past few months due to her history of friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and her track record of expanding economic ties between Russia and Germany.

Many criticize it for Germany’s increasing dependence on Russian energy imports, particularly with the construction of the first Nord Stream gas pipeline between the two countries. It was also the driving force behind the now-defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which its predecessor Olaf Schultz aborted before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

Merkel did not respond to these criticisms directly. Shortly after Russia launched its invasion, Merkel issued a brief statement saying there was no justification for violating international law.

But her silence since then has angered many critics who accused her of empowering Putin. Merkel had insisted on maintaining communication and engagement with Putin even after his 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and his incursions into eastern Ukraine, which led to European Union sanctions against Russia.

CNBC has reached out to the German Chancellery for comment.

Schulz, Merkel’s predecessor, now faces the task of overturning that record, and has overseen some The most dramatic shifts in German foreign policy Since the end of World War II – that is, the intensification of Germany’s military spending and the approval of sending weapons to a conflict zone to support Ukraine.

Schulz said Wednesday that Germany will send the IRIS-T air defense system to Ukraine, amid criticism that his government is still not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

Also on Wednesday, Germany’s parliamentary budget committee approved a landmark €100 billion ($106 billion) in funding for the country’s military, which will be presented to the full parliament on Friday.

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