Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine

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Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from journalist and author Alexander Osang at the Berliner Ensemble in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday, June 7. (Fabian Sommer/dpa/AP)

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday there was no justification for Russia’s “brutal disregard” of international law in launching its invasion of Ukraine.

“The attack on Ukraine was a serious mistake on the part of Russia and an objective violation of all the rules of international law and everything that allows us to live together in peace in Europe,” Merkel said in a statement. an interview with German journalist Alexander Osang.
“If we go through the centuries and say which piece of territory belongs to whom, then we will only have war, and that is absolutely unacceptable.”

Merkel said she doesn’t blame herself for “not trying hard enough” to prevent Russia’s actions in the years leading up to the Feb. 24 invasion.

“It’s a great sadness that it didn’t work out, but I don’t blame myself now for not trying,” she said. “I would feel very bad if we had said, ‘Oh, with this man you don’t need to talk at all,'” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The fact that Russia and Europe are neighbors has conditioned certain relations, Merkel said. “You can’t ignore yourself. It won’t be possible in the future either.”

Ukraine and NATO: Merkel said she was convinced that any plan to make Ukraine a candidate for NATO membership during her tenure would amount to a declaration of war, from Putin’s perspective.

Merkel also said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “incredibly brave in his fight against corruption”, but “at that time Ukraine was a country dominated by oligarchs”, which would have prevented him from joining the NATO.

“And that’s why I was strictly against it,” she explained.

Merkel also showed respect for Zelensky’s “willingness” to fight.

“At the very beginning, not only did Russia make a serious miscalculation regarding the conquest of Kyiv, but his response to the offer that he could leave the country, ‘I don’t need a ride, I ‘I need guns’ was also very clear and also really inspired my respect,” Merkel said.

“Ultimately, Ukraine is a geopolitical hostage to the West. Putin’s hatred, Putin’s hostility goes against the Western model. Putin’s hostility goes against the democratic model western.”

European unit: Merkel said she was very happy that Germany recently decided to buy armed drones from Israel. “It has been very difficult to invest in military deterrence. It’s the only language Putin understands,” she said.

“The annexation of Crimea was a deep cut,” Merkel said. “To me it was then perfectly clear that we are not dealing with someone who wishes us well with our way of life. Nevertheless, we cannot get rid of him.”

“Now it is very, very important that the European Union remains united.”

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