March 27, 2014
Ulrich Speck is a Visiting Scholar at Carnegie Europe and an expert on German-Russian relations, arguably the fulcrum on which the European Union’s response to Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea will pivot. The Interpreter‘s Editor-in-Chief Michael Weiss invited Speck to explain Berlin’s changing posture toward Moscow, and what effect this may also have on US-German relations.
Michael Weiss: How has Russia’s invasion of Crimea altered Germany’s posture toward the Kremlin? Der Spiegel talks of Angela Merkel’s seeking a “hard” line against Putin, and the Chancellor has already criticized the 97 percent vote in favor of Crimea’s annexation as clearly fraudulent. She was also the one world leader who spoke most frequently with Putin in the days before and after Yanukovych’s ouster, yet clearly she made little impact in preventing an escalation. So will Berlin actually turn on Moscow, do you think?
Ulrich Speck: Chancellor Merkel has certainly no illusions about Putin. When he came back to the presidency in 2012 and cracked down on protest, Merkel was not holding back with criticism. For years she had hoped like many, also in Washington, that Russia could still make progress towards a more liberal system, becoming a real partner for the west.
But these hopes have been massively disappointed; continue reading