Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded Tuesday that she failed during her tenure to create a security architecture that could have prevented Russia's war on Ukraine.
Speaking in her first public interview since leaving office in December, Merkel told an audience at the Berliner Ensemble Theater that she started to take seriously the possibility of Russia launching a war against Ukraine during her last few weeks in office.
Condemning Russia, she stressed that there is no justification for the attack on Ukraine, which is a "brutal attack" that violates international law.
Merkel also hailed Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his leadership, adding he represented "a new Ukraine."
"I don’t share the opinion of (Russian President) Mr. (Vladimir) Putin, to make that very clear. But we didn’t manage to create a security architecture that could have prevented this (war in Ukraine), and we should think about that too," she noted.
She also rejected criticism that under her leadership, Germany was caught in an illusion that a militarily aggressive Russia could be democratized by expanding trade ties with Western countries.
"I did not believe that Putin could be changed through trade," she underlined, adding she believed however that if political cooperation was impossible, it was reasonable to at least have some economic relations with Russia.
Explaining that her ties with Putin deteriorated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Merkel said she told people that "Putin wants to destroy Europe as he sees the EU as the preliminary stage of NATO."
She noted that during her leadership, she had worked hard enough to not escalate tensions with Russia but that it was unfortunate that this could not be achieved.