Merkel, Putin and The Lessons Of History
By Klaus Larres, Professor, University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, and Peter Eitsov, Political Analyst
Writing for the March 25 edition of National Interest, Klaus Larres and Peter Eitsov express their concern that the call of the United States and the European Union for swift punishment and humiliation of Putin for Russia's occupation of Crimea will have no positive effect on changing the occupation of the Crimea and may force Putin into taking even more drastic actions in eastern Ukraine. Germany, under Merkel's leadership, they believe has a more balanced approach for dealing with Putin and they cite three reasons why Merkel might be more successful than anyone else in convincing Putin to negotiate an end to the crisis. First, Merkel is very cautious and unemotional; second, she witnessed Brant's policy of Ostpolitik establish rapprochement between the USSR and the West; and third, her knowledge of Russia allows her to see the world through Putin's eyes. Putin, unfortunately, appears to have a skewed view of the world, especially when it concerns World War II and the Cold War.
The authors believe that Merkel will be able to bring Putin to the negotiation table but only after the U.S. and the EU demonstrate willingness to accept the Russian annexation of the Crimea, regardless of its illegality, as an accomplished fact. In exchange for this recognition, Russia should agree to recognize the independence of Kosovo, help end the civil war in Syria, as well as resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, sign a treaty respecting the Ukraine's remaining boarders, and agree not to support other pro-Russian separatist tendencies within the region. The authors posit that Merkel can influence Putin to...