In Bild Zeitung Interview, Putin Addresses British Geopolitical Attacks on Germany

January 11, 2016

In an exclusive, broad-ranging interview with Germany's leading mass-tabloid Bildzeitung, published today but conducted on Jan. 5 in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in a decisive way against British geopolitics, which were directed particularly against Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and continue to be today, to ensure permanent East-West conflict and war, instead of unity and cooperation through such initiatives as the "One Belt One Road" initiative advanced by BRICS member China and its allies, and Lyndon and Helga LaRouche's World Land Bridge.

Asked by Bild's interviewers, "What did we do wrong?" after the end of the Cold War, Putin replied, "we did not overcome Europe's division: 25 years ago the Berlin Wall fell, but Europe's division was not overcome, invisible walls simply moved to the East," he said. "This created the foundation for mutual reproaches, misunderstanding, and crises in the future." Then Putin revealed that he had reviewed the documents and transcripts of the discussions that took place in 1990, after the Berlin Wall fell, particularly the remarks of Egon Bahr, "already the patriarch of German politics" and a "wise old German." Then-German Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Soviet leaders Gorbachev, and Mr. Falin, of the Russian Communist Party's Central Committee, also participated. Putin underscored that he and Gerhard Schroeder are still good friends.

President Putin reported that Bahr said on June 26, 1990: "If while uniting Germany we do not take decisive steps to overcome the division of Europe into hostile blocs, the developments can take such an unfavourable turn that the USSR will be doomed to international isolation." Bahr spoke about the necessity to create a new alliance in the center of Europe, the Russian President explained. "Europe should not go to NATO. The whole of Central Europe, either with East Germany or without it, should have formed a separate alliance with participation of both the Soviet Union and the United States. And then he says: 'NATO as an organisation, at least its military structures, must not extend to include Central Europe.'"

Bahr, Putin added, was "convinced that it was necessary to change the format radically, move away from the times of the Cold War. But we did nothing." Now, "what Mr. Bahr warned about—that's what has happened." The whole of Europe was not united, as Bahr recommended, and instead, "NATO started moving eastward and expanded."

The Russian President touched again on the NATO question, and the not-unrelated matter of terrorism, which Putin said, "was also used as a means of fighting against Russia" in the 1990's.

"If anyone had listened to Gerhard Schroeder, to [then-French President] Jacques Chirac, to me, perhaps there would have been none of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as there would have been no upsurge of terrorism in Iraq, Libya, or other countries in the Middle East," Putin went on. "We are faced with common threats, and we still want all countries, both in Europe and the whole world, to join their efforts to combat these threats, and we are still striving for this. I refer not only to terrorism, but also to crime, trafficking in persons, environmental protection, and many other common challenges. Yet this does not mean that it is us who should agree with everything that others decide on these or other matters. Furthermore, if someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time. Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solutions?"

Putin's discussion of Russia's relationship with Germany is instructive. Despite everything that has occurred over the past decade, and efforts to "upset our relations through mass media and anti-Russia rhetoric," relations remain close, because both nations' people feel an affinity toward each other. Russian-German economic and strategic cooperation produced benefits for both nations, creating jobs, people-to-people and cultural cooperation, setting up the St. Petersburg Dialogue forum, among other things. And, he emphasized, Germany and Russia worked together to try "to prevent negative developments in the Middle East in Iraq, together."

The "foolish and harmful" sanctions imposed on Russia have hurt both nations, Putin pointed out: trade volume in dollars had dropped by 50%, and many of the jobs created by Russian-German cooperation have been lost. Yet, Putin underscored, "we will overcome the difficulties we are facing today," as there are still many avenues for cooperation in many areas. Chancellor Merkel and Putin have met regularly at various events," he said. "I think I met her seven times, and had 20 telephone conversations with her in 2015. the relations are still developing, thank God, and I hope they will develop further."

See the full interview here.