Thursday, 31 May 2012

Angela Merkel and a former (second rate) KGB spy

Der Spiegel reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel tomorrow "will be welcoming a guest whose political career is one she would have liked to see ended years ago. But now he's more powerful than ever."

The guest is of course Vladimir Putin, who´s only German friend right now is probably former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who still maintains that the former second rate KGB spy is a "flawless" democrat. (Putin has thanked Schröder for his support by letting him have a well paid job as chairman of the board for the Russian/German Nord Stream pipeline). 

Merkel had according to Der Spiegel placed her bets on Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin replaced as president: 

She thought he was capable of modernizing Russia and she had hoped he would run for re-election even though many experts thought it unlikely. Last September, when Medvedev and Putin, who was prime minister at the time, announced that they had agreed to trade offices long before, Merkel felt hoodwinked. She was forced to realize that the man she had placed such great hopes in was merely a Putin puppet.

Merkel was profoundly disappointed and there was an initial period of silence between the Chancellery and the Kremlin. Her low opinion of Putin was confirmed by accusations of ballot-box manipulation and smear campaigns against opposition figures during December's election for the Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

In recent days, Putin has again made clear what he thinks about the West: First, he didn't travel to Camp David in mid-May to attend the G-8 summit of the world's most important industrialized countries, and was then conspicuously absent from the NATO summit held in Chicago a few days later. Not quite a new Cold War, certainly, but a chilly peace.
The meeting in Berlin isn't likely to change the situation. No agreements are to be signed, as is usual for such meetings. Likewise, no progress will be made on contested issues, such as Moscow's call for the relaxation of visa restrictions, as neither Berlin nor Moscow has anything new to offer.

The fact that Angela Merkel at some stage thought that Putin´s puppet Medvedev actually would have been capable of modernizing Russia speaks volumes about the Chancellor´s naivety - and the low quality of her foreign policy advisers. 

It is, of course, excellent if Frau Merkel now has realized what kind of a man Putin is, but unfortunately she will not be able to hide another much graver mistake: After the Chancellor´s emotional and hasty  - and in the long run economically disastrous - energy transition policy decision last year, Germany is increasingly dependent on Russian energy. And Putin is of course well aware of that. 

If Angela Merkel is wise now, she will at least refrain from supporting the planned doubling of the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline. Germany needs energy, but to become even more dependent on Russia would be a another huge mistake. 

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