Merkel, Clueless From the Start, Is Now Getting Desperate
Merkel is a seriously over-rated bumbler. Long the dupe of Washington, she has run into an implacable stone wall in Putin's position on Ukraine - where he holds a very strong hand
The European leaders have come away without a clue what to do. They desperately need an end to the Ukrainian crisis, which is hurting their own economies and which as Milos Zeman's and Orban's comments show, is creating increasing dissension within the EU itself.
There is little appetite either for more sanctions or for giving the Ukraine the tens of billions it needs to turn itself round whilst there is deep reluctance to seek a restructuring of the Ukraine's debts since doing so would inevitably require the agreement of the Ukraine's biggest creditor, which is Russia, which would undoubtedly in that case link its agreement to movement on political matters.
The hope always seems to be that Putin will somehow be bullied into solving the problem for the Europeans in the way the Europeans want and there is incredulity and exasperation when that fails to happen. Meanwhile the situation in the Ukraine itself both economically and politically continues to spiral downwards.”
It clearly originates in briefings by German officials almost certainly acting on instructions from Merkel herself.
1. Merkel came away from a private one-to-one meeting with Putin baffled and furious to find him utterly immoveable on Ukraine and refusing to be pressured into doing what she wanted;
2. Merkel has no clue what to do. As the Reuters despatch puts it “Merkel has hit a diplomatic dead-end”. Instead she is reduced to talking of a “holding operation” rationalised as “the long haul”, which is really a way of saying she is going to do nothing. There is in reality no time for the sort of “long haul” she is talking about as the situation in Ukraine deteriorates and as opposition to Merkel’s policy mounts;
3. Further sanctions are off the table because of mounting opposition in Europe. It will be “a Herculean task” to get even the existing sanctions extended when they come up for renewal;
4. Merkel is now facing mounting opposition to her policy within Germany itself.
We have repeatedly said this here on RI. The Reuters dispatch confirms the extent of the pressure Merkel is now coming under.
In her present angry mood she is blaming it all on “Putin’s charm offensive” and on “Russian propaganda”.
This is total rubbish. Are we seriously to believe that a former leader of the SPD like Matthias Platzek or the hard headed German businessmen meeting Russian Economics Minister Ulyukaev in Stuttgart are dupes of the Kremlin?
As to what actually passed in the private one-to-one meeting Merkel had with Putin, the Reuters dispatch gives us a clue: Merkel asked Putin “to spell out exactly what he wanted in Ukraine and other former Soviet satellites”.
This question shows why Merkel’s diplomacy and the whole European approach to the Ukrainian crisis has gone so catastrophically wrong.
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