I got Putin wrong, says chastened German President
Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, a long-standing advocate for Western rapprochement, said that his support for Nord Stream 2 was a clear error.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, was Foreign Minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel, before being elevated to the presidency. He said that Russia’s invasion in Ukraine forced him and others to face up to what they had done wrong.
He said, “My adherence at Nord Stream 2 was clearly a misstep.” “We stuck to a bridge that Russia didn’t believe in and which our other partners warned us against.”
Steinmeier was a prominent member a wing his Social Democratic Party led by Gerhard Schroeder (ex-Chancellor), that believed close economic ties with Russia were a way to anchor it within a west-oriented global system.
Nord Stream 2, which was cancelled by critics, was a central part of that strategy.
This has led to a growing backlash. Social media users have repeatedly tweeted past photos of him lovingly hugging Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. While Andrij Melnyk, the ambassador for Ukraine, has voiced his disapproval.
Melnyk mockingly tweeted that Russia was the only soloist in a Steinmeier-organized “solidarity concert”, which was being held for Ukraine. He wrote, “An offence.” “Sorry, but I’m not coming.”
Germany’s president is supposed to unify the country and be above all the noise of daily politics. He should also have the moral authority to encourage people to behave better.
Steinmeier stated that “We failed to construct a common European home.” He said, “I didn’t believe Vladimir Putin would accept his country’s total economic, political, and moral ruin to the sake of his Imperial madness.”
“In this, I was, as others, mistaken.”