At a public forum hosted by the German weekly Die Zeit, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder questioned the response of the Western powers to Putin’s move into the Crimea.
When asked what he thought Putin’s motives were, Schroeder said, “I believe he is interested in consolidating Russia, developing it economically and keeping the country big and strong so that Russia can operate on a level playing field with the United States. Further, I believe that Putin, as someone who is thinking in historical terms, has a certain fear of Russia being encircled.”
The former German leader then compared Russia’s actions in the Crimea to the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999:
“Of course the current proceedings in the Crimea are a violation of international law. But you have to know why I am a little hesitant to start pointing fingers at the moment. That is because I did it myself. . .when we were dealing with the developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- the Kosovo War -- we sent our Tornado planes and –- together with NATO –- bombed a sovereign country without a resolution by the United Nations Security Council. Kosovo was a blueprint for what is happening in the Crimea at the moment. Both incidents are, from a formal perspective, a violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Schroeder then criticized the European Union for inviting Ukraine to integrate with the West in the first place and questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia:
“An initial mistake was made by the EU that put a politically divided Ukraine in a position where it had to decide to move towards the West or Russia. If I had to give some advice, I would tell European leaders to beware of being tempted to move down the path of a recurring cycle of economic sanctions. Firstly, sanctions destroy a lot which later has to be repaired. Secondly, sanctions would hurt us more than others.”