Merkel Ally Sees Russian War Act as Germany Debates Role

An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who wants Germany to take a more assertive role in global crises called Russia’s reported military incursion into Ukraine an “act of war.”

President Vladimir Putin’s “military intervention” in Ukraine makes a mockery of diplomatic efforts and represents “a massive deception of the global public,” Andreas Schockenhoff, a senior lawmaker in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said in a statement today.

Schockenhoff, who was Merkel’s coordinator for relations with Russia during her previous two terms, is among German policy makers who say the country should match its economic power by taking on more responsibility, including engaging in Ukraine and sending weapons to Iraq to fend off Islamists.

“We can’t extract ourselves from these events,” Schockenhoff, a deputy parliamentary caucus leader of the Christian Democrats, said in an interview this week. “There is a consciousness that this is also about our security.”

Though Merkel has ruled out military intervention, she waded deeper into the conflict with Russia by visiting Kiev on Aug. 23 to support Ukraine’s leadership. Days earlier, she agreed to scrap a post-World War II taboo by supplying Iraq with arms to fight Islamic State militants. Merkel plans to explain the decision in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin on Sept. 1.

As the two conflicts intensify, Schockenhoff said Germany’s traditional reluctance to enter global confrontations is giving way to broader recognition of the country’s interests as Europe’s biggest economy.

Expanding Sanctions

“There’s a new quality in the public debate,” he said in the interview. “The debate is more tailored to reality.”

Merkel yesterday raised the prospect of expanding sanctions on Russia as Ukrainian rebels opened a second front in the east and NATO reported a surge of Russian soldiers and advanced weaponry into Ukraine. Ukraine is on the agenda of a summit of the European Union’s 28 leaders tomorrow in Brussels.

Russia’s incursion into Ukraine has led the situation to grow “increasingly out of control,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, said in an e-mailed statement today. “Reason now has to return. I say that especially with a view to Russia.”

Reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine “amount to a military intervention,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, said today. “It’s a very serious development without the slightest justification.”

Germany has been key to EU efforts to implement sanctions on Russia, Schockenhoff said in the interview.

“Without Germany, there would hardly be agreement in Europe -- and for that reason Germany has taken on a more active role,” he said. “It shows that we have German reunification behind us, that we’re a reliable partner.”