Dhe longtime CDU Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been critical of the Union’s earlier policy on Russia and of his own behavior. Schäuble told the Handelsblatt newspaper that he was “angry” with himself when it came to Russia. You could have known. Putin has said publicly that the collapse of the Soviet Union is the greatest catastrophe and that he wants to reverse it.” Schäuble expressed surprise that former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) did not admit to any mistakes in her Russia policy. However, he did not count Merkel among the great chancellors of the republic – along with Adenauer, Brandt and Kohl. His list was “provisionally closed”.
Germany’s international reputation is “severely damaged”, and not only because of the appearance of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), said Schäuble. The mistakes went back a long time, for example to the Nord Stream decisions. “We didn’t want to see it. That goes for everyone. When I was interior minister, I spoke to my Russian counterpart about how we can fight Islamist terror together. I could have seen what Russia is doing in Chechnya. Or listen to the then Polish President Lech Kaczynski. After Russia’s attack on Georgia, he warned in a speech: ‘First comes Georgia, then Ukraine, then Moldova, then the Baltic States and then Poland.’ He was right.”
Not only Merkel wanted cheap gas
Schäuble, who has been a member of the Bundestag for almost 50 years, described Merkel’s comments on the Russian attack as “remarkable”. Even now, with regard to Russia, Merkel cannot say that we made mistakes. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said it rightly: ‘I’m so angry with us.’” But it wasn’t just Merkel who wanted cheap gas from Russia, said Schäuble. He himself, on the other hand, always considered Nord Stream to be wrong. “I said that as a member of the federal government, even if it wasn’t met with enthusiasm.”
There are already voices in the Union that, like the deputy CDU chairman and Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer, are in favor of Russian gas supplies “when the war is over”. Some Union politicians, such as former CDU environment minister Klaus Töpfer or former CSU chairman Edmund Stoiber, supported a “German-Russian energy forum”. The deceased CDU functionary and then foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, Philipp Mißfelder, went to St. Petersburg for Vladimir Putin’s birthday after the Russian attack on the Ukrainian Crimea, as did the former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and had before the “demonization” of the Russian President warned. Mißfelder’s non-arranged trip caused trouble in the parliamentary group at the time, but the then chairman Volker Kauder (CDU) held his protective hand over him.
Referring to Merkel and the CDU, Norbert Röttgen, foreign politician for the Union faction, said that the surprise at Putin’s war of aggression was “not because it couldn’t be seen. Rather, it was decided that one did not want to see it.” The cause was on the one hand pressure from industry and on the other hand the “strong pressure from the coalition partner, the SPD, which has advocated a kind of appeasement towards Russia”.