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11 Feb, 2023 16:20

German foreign minister admits blunder

Annalena Baerbock clarified a remark made at the European Council about “fighting a war against Russia”
German foreign minister admits blunder

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has conceded that her controversial comment about the European Union being at war with Russia, which she made late last month before the European Council, was a mistake.

The diplomat noted, however, that the general message itself – that the continent should unite in its support for Ukraine – still stands.  

In an interview with Der Tagesspiegel newspaper, which was published on Saturday, Baerbock was asked whether she thought Germany was “at war with Russia.” She replied in the negative but added that, by attacking Ukraine, Moscow was also attacking “our European peace order.”  

Clarifying her previous remark, in which she said the EU was “fighting a war against Russia,” the foreign minister claimed that context was key to understanding it correctly.  

Baerbock recounted how she had to parry accusations that Germany was not doing enough to shore up Ukraine at the time, with critics citing Berlin’s refusal to provide Kiev with tanks.  

“That’s why I made it clear that we do support Ukraine in its self defense,” the diplomat explained. She added that she was also trying to communicate another point, that Moscow’s offensive had targeted the whole security architecture of Europe, and not merely its neighbor. 

According to Baerbock, her words had been deliberately misinterpreted by the “Russian regime’s propaganda.” 

She concluded by quoting a German saying: “The one who doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t live.”  

Commenting on Baerbock’s remark, Moscow said at the time that it had only served to show that the West had been planning the current conflict for years.  

Her choice of words did not sit well with a number of politicians at home either, both on the right and left of the political spectrum.  

Bild claimed that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office was growing increasingly dissatisfied with Baerbock’s performance, and was reportedly logging her missteps.