An­gela Merkel

Kyiv Post - - Opinion - — Euan Mac­Don­ald

When think­ing of a firm and long­stand­ing friend of Ukraine, one name comes im­me­di­ately to mind — that of Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel.

The Ger­man leader, who met with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko in Me­se­berg in east­ern Ger­many on May 20, is the only leader of the big­gest four Euro­pean coun­tries, Ger­many, France, Bri­tain, and Italy, who has been in of­fice con­tin­u­ously since Rus­sia launched its war in Ukraine in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

And with the elec­tion of Don­ald J. Trump as U.S. pres­i­dent on Nov. 8, Merkel has taken on the role of the West’s fore­most op­po­nent of Ukraine’s neme­sis, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

It was Merkel, along with the former French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, who was the ar­chi­tect of the Minsk peace process. With the exit of Hol­lande from the world stage ear­lier this month, she is, there­fore, more po­lit­i­cally in­vested than any other Western leader in see­ing that the Minsk peace process suc­ceeds.

And Merkel, like no other Western leader, un­der­stands the threat Ukraine faces. Although born in Ham­burg, West Ger­many, she grew up in com­mu­nist East Ger­many and learned to speak Rus­sian flu­ently. Her re­la­tion­ship with Putin (who speaks Ger­man) is based on the kind of un­der­stand­ing, at least in lin­guis­tic terms, un­ri­valed by any other Western leader.

She has re­ferred to Putin as “liv­ing in an­other world.” She wasn’t im­ply­ing that Putin was crazy, but was re­fer­ring to his world­view — im­pe­ri­al­ist, So­viet-re­van­chist and em­bit­tered. She no doubt un­der­stands that it is this world­view that has prompted his wars against Ge­or­gia and Ukraine and his threats to the Baltic states — former So­viet re­publics that have, since the fall of the So­viet Union, shaken off the shack­les of cen­turies of Rus­sian dom­i­na­tion with mem­ber­ship in NATO and the Euro­pean Union.

Merkel is also up for re-elec­tion in au­tumn, and will face a di­rect threat from Putin him­self: There is lit­tle doubt that the Krem­lin, as it has done in re­cent Western elec­tions, will seek to in­flu­ence the vote, pro­mot­ing its fa­vored can­di­dates with its pro­pa­ganda me­dia. It will also prob­a­bly re­lease stolen and fal­si­fied data hacked from the com­put­ers of Ger­man po­lit­i­cal par­ties in an ef­fort to sway vot­ers.

Putin will not fa­vor Merkel, so it is to be hoped that, as in France, the Krem­lin’s ef­forts to med­dle in Western democ­racy fail. “Mutti,” as the Ger­man chan­cel­lor is af­fec­tion­ately known, will hope­fully emerge vic­to­ri­ous (although Martin Schulz is also an ac­cept­able con­tender), and re­main one of Ukraine’s best friends in the West for years to come.

Or­der of Yaroslav The Wise

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