In her first major public appearance since taking office, ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply condemned the war in Ukraine. The CDU politician does not currently see himself as a mediator in the conflict.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has sharply condemned the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “This is a brutal attack that violates international law, for which there is no excuse,” said Merkel on Tuesday evening in Berlin. The attack was a big mistake on the part of Russia.

It was not possible to create a security architecture that would have prevented the war, Merkel continued. For the first time since the end of her chancellorship, the former Chancellor answered questions from a journalist. At the event organized by the Aufbau Verlag and the Berliner Ensemble, Merkel spoke to the “Spiegel” reporter Alexander Osang.

Angela Merkel: “What might have been missed?”

“What I naturally asked myself is: What might you have missed?” She said in the interview, which was broadcast by TV station Phoenix. “If you could have done more to prevent such a tragedy – I already think this situation is a great tragedy – you could have prevented it. And that’s why you ask yourself, of course, I keep asking myself these questions.”

However, she refused to apologize for the policy, which many criticized as being too lenient towards Russia. “Well, I don’t see that I have to say now: That was wrong, and I won’t apologize for that either.” The ex-chancellor admitted that the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 could have been dealt with more harshly. However, one cannot say that nothing was done at the time. She referred to Russia’s exclusion from the group of leading industrial nations (G8) and NATO’s decision that every country should spend two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. She was not “naive” in dealing with Russia.

“Putin only understands deterrence”

Merkel advocated strengthening military deterrence against Russia. “It’s the only language Putin understands.” The 67-year-old does not currently see herself as a mediator in the conflict. When asked if she would call Russian President Vladimir Putin, she said, “I don’t get the impression it’s doing any good right now.” There is “little to discuss in my view”. Merkel also pointed out that she would only intervene at the request of the federal government. “My understanding of office is that I will not do anything that the German government will not ask me to do.” Merkel’s predecessor as Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder (SPD), traveled to Moscow after the war began to talk to Putin – without informing the federal government.