Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his disappointment at former German chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent statements on Ukraine.
Russia interpreted statements by Merkel in an interview with the news website Zeit online to mean that the Minsk peace plan was only concluded to give Ukraine time to arm itself and prepare for war with Russia.
“Honestly, this was absolutely unexpected for me. It’s disappointing. I frankly did not expect to hear something like this from the former German chancellor,” Putin told journalists in Bishkek on Friday.
The Minsk peace plan for eastern Ukraine, which has been under Russian influence following the start of hostilities in 2014, provided for far-reaching obligations for the parties to the conflict most of which were never implemented.
In the years that followed, Putin repeatedly warned the West against accepting Ukraine into NATO. He justified the invasion on February 24 by saying that he wanted to protect the people in eastern Ukraine from abuse and genocide. Russia was also striving for the demilitarization and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, Putin claimed.
“I have always assumed that the leadership of the federal republic of Germany would behave sincerely towards us,” Putin said. It had been clear that Germany was on Ukraine’s side, supporting it. “But it still seemed to me that the leadership of Germany was always sincere in its efforts to find a solution based on the principles that we agreed on and that were reached, among other things, in the framework of the Minsk process.”
Merkel had said verbatim in the interview published on Thursday: “And the Minsk agreement in 2014 was an attempt to give Ukraine time. It has also used this time to become stronger, as you can see today.”
In early 2015, Putin could have easily overrun Ukraine, according to Merkel’s account. “And I very much doubt that the NATO states could have done as much then as they are doing now to help Ukraine.”