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March 29, 2014



Imagine you play chess and your opponent makes an aggressive move you understand. You know the game, you know your opponent's strategy; you recognize he still has the initiative and that time is on his side. The better you understand it, the less you like it.

Putin is playing chess, there is no mystery about his strategy and there never has been a mystery. Helmut Schmidt is only an observer of the game, but I think he has recognized the West doesn't even play the same game as Russia. Is it really totally out of fashion in Brussels, Berlin and Washington to examine Russia's interests, spheres of influence and responsibilities? Is the West really surprised by Russia's intervention in Krimea or is it, as I tend to believe, just a sideshow for the masses and the tabloids? In 2012 the EU has warned an association with the Ukraine would have to exclude the rightwing, racist and chauvinist Svoboda Party from power and influence. Then the Svoboda Party declared to create a revolutionary situation in the Ukraine and all of the West went nuts, ignoring Svoboda is as hostile to them as to Russia. Svoboda was the major force behind the coup in Kiev? Let's ignore that, too.

Putin thinks of himself as a czar and of Russia as an empire. His display of military power is the old-fashioned one, securing Russia's position by controlling the periphery. But, as Putin has explained in his SOTU adress 2006, his thinly populated empire is threatened by demographic developments: Birth rates of Russians are declining while the numbers of muslim citizens and immigrants are sky-rocketing. As things are going, ethnic Russians could be a minority in their own country by 2040. Since 2006 Russia didn't manage to stop this development and has crossed the point of no return now. For Putin, the conclusion is clear: Russian birth rates have to increase, russification of the homeland and the periphery must be in the focus of Russia's long term strategy. No tolerance against anything standing in the way of these strategic goals, like western standards of "excessive" civil rights.

What do diplomats in Moscow report to their governments? Does anybody really read these reports? Are the secret services so occupied with spying on their own citizens that they became blind against Russia?

What I have written now is no news but something that could have been known since years. And to know means to understand, but that should not be defamed as promotion lik in the case of Helmut Schmidt.



Re: "Defamed"
I appreciate your comment but nowhere does Schmidt condemn the invasion of Crimea. We can understand ("verstehen") Putin's motivations, but Schmidt uses the word "verstaendlich" - which implies sympathy.

Helmut Schmidt always had the annoying habit of lecturing Americans on global politics - dating back to the Carter administration.

Don't forget, Schmidt also compared Barack Obama to Hitler and Stalin.



I still haven't found the complete interview on the internet, maybe things would be clearer then. However, I think it is not correct to translate "durchaus verständlich" to "completely understandable" and I also wouldn't go so far to say that sympathy is implied here. Anyway, you are right on another context, David. Helmut Schmidt is intelligent enough to know that he is widely regarded as an expert on international affairs, that any of his words are considered the result of his enormous knowledge. He still is the German uber-chancellor, it is not the wisdom or the logic in his words that counts but the spirit in which they are spoken. Imagine this situation in a tv talk show:
Q: Herr Schmidt, do you like the US foreign policy in the Middle East?
Helmut Schmidt lights another cigarette, takes a deep drag, puffs a huge cloud of smoke and says: Not at all.

We already love him just for breaking the rule and smoke in public - and then comes the answer we want to hear. Simple, clear, no wishy-washy. How refreshing, wouldn't you agree?


Durchaus means completely, absolutely possible, according to my husband and the dictionary. I said in an earlier comment that did not post that it was ambigious in meaning, but not so.


1) Helmut Schmidt ist durchaus beliebt bei den Deutschen.

2) Alle Deutschen lieben Helmut Schmidt.

Statement 1 is true, it leaves room for different feelings. So when Helmut Schmidt says something is 'durchaus verständlich' he doesn't rule arguments speaking against it. imho


As much as I dislike Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, maybe we can come to an agreement here.

Offering Kaliningrad in return could reduce Western opposition to Putin's latest moves by Germany :-)


Zyme - I agree.It would be nice to have Königsberg back! And then Ostpreussen,Alsace, etc.


I'm aware of your irony. Eastern Prussia is no longer populated by Prussians anyway.

Austria and Southern Tirol however would make perfect sense. Possible Alsace as well. Let's see what Europe's future has in store :-)

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