It seems that former chancellors of Germany are lining up to throw their support behind Vladimir Putin and criticize the actions of West in the Ukraine crisis. First Gerhard Schröder said the EU made "a mistake" by putting Ukraine, a culturally divided country, in an "either/or" situation with an association agreement, noting that sanctions would hurt Germany more than other countries. Now "Altkanzler" Helmut Schmidt is eager to throw the Ukrainian people under the bus:
Moscow’s actions in the Crimea are comprehensible, former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt said, criticizing the Western reaction to the peninsula’s reunification with Russia.
President Vladimir Putin’s approach to the Crimean issue is “completely understandable,” Schmidt wrote in Die Zeit newspaper where he’s employed as an editor. While the sanctions, which target individual Russian politicians and businessmen, employed by the EU and the US against Russia are “a stupid idea,” he added. The current restrictive measures are of symbolic nature, but if more serious economic sanctions are introduced “they’ll hit the West as hard as Russia,” Schmidt warned.
He also believes that the refusal of the Western countries to cooperate with Russia in the framework of the G8 is a wrong decision.
According to Schmidt, the situation in Ukraine is “dangerous because the West is terribly upset” and it’s “agitation” leads to “corresponding agitation among Russian public opinion and political circles.
Putin's controlled media outlets in Moscow were jubilant over these remarks from the former chancellor, as were the leaders of the Left Party (die Linke) in the Bundestag, who are stuanch supporters of Putin's kleptocracy in Russia.
As Schmidt was commenting on the Ukraine, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser rushed to Moscow to meet with Putin and show his solidarity. And Kaeser is not alone: German CEOs, it seems, are united in their support of Putin, even as German chancellor Angela Merkel was urging harsh sanctions against Russia.
The writer Georg DIez spent last week in the Ukraine and his weekly Spiegel column laments that Schmidt, Siemens and the German media are betraying Western values:
Was die Menschen wollten, was sie riskierten, was sie sich immer noch erhoffen, darum geht es fast kaum noch - das war auch der Eindruck der Protestierenden, mit denen ich in der vergangenen Woche in der Ukraine gesprochen habe: Dass die Werte, die sie für europäische halten, den Europäern selbst ziemlich egal sind.
(What the people wanted, what they risked, what they still today hope for - none of that seems to matter. That was the impression of the protesters I spoke with last week in the Ukraine. The values they consider as European seem to have no meaning to the Europeans.)
See also Anne Applebaums op/ed piece in the Washington Post: Russia's Anti-Western Ideology has Global Consequences.