With Obama out of office soon and Trump already cozying up to Putin, Putin is losing his sparring partner. He got his dream president in helping Trump get elected, so next on his list for liberals to put out to pasture appears to be Angela Merkel.
Jochen Bittner, the political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, posits that “the German chancellor is a perfect target,” for Putin. In fact, “Germany is holding general elections next autumn, and with politicians sympathetic to Moscow on the rise, she may well be running for her fourth term as the sole European leader willing to stand up to a newly assertive Russia.”
Merkel has been vocal about punishing Russia since the “annexation of Crimea in 2014.” Then in the following year, “she welcomed a million refugees into Germany, and pushed the rest of Europe to do the same — thus, in the view of Russian ethno-nationalists, diluting European culture.” Finally, “she still believes in a united, integrated European Union, a bastion of liberal values and, at least implicitly, a political and economic bulwark against Russia.”
Bittner is betting that Putin will ultimately lose the battle because, he says, “A government that maligns the outside world to make feel Russia great again is doomed to fail — as it failed before.” Let’s hope he is right.