Schmidt: Putin Less Problematic Than Obama's Entourage
May 17, 2014 • 3:17PM

In part two of his exclusive interview with Bildzeitung, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt opposes sanctions against Russia on grounds that they will only escalate the situation "and in the end we will have a war with weapons." The basic flaw of Western approaches to Ukraine is that there is no single Ukrainian people, Schmidt says; there is Crimea, East and West Ukraine. The western part consists largely of former Polish territories and is Roman Catholic, whereas the east is on the territory of the former Kiev Rus which is the core of Russia, and it is Russian Orthodox. "The West seems not to want to take any notice of that."

A solution for Ukraine needs time, certainly more than a year, and it can only be brought about in consultation with Russia and with other neighboring states, and the format to do that is Geneva II. As far as Putin is concerned, Schmidt sees him as a forward-looking politician who has to handle all kinds of problems in his multi-ethnic state, and his view of Ukraine should be taken into account. Asked whether the trip of fellow former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to St. Petersburg to meet his friend Putin was okay, Schmidt answered that "there was no reason to cancel this meeting. It would be very bad in the present situation if personal friendships between Germans and Russians should break apart."

Putin is not a belligerent man, Schmidt says. "I do not think that Putin wants a war. And Europe should do everything to reorient Russia in this direction, instead of blathering about the Third World War like the government in Kiev and many in the entourage of U.S. President Obama."