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Marc Champion

Merkel Is at the Mercy of Putin and Erdogan

As Russia creates Syrian refugees and Turkey threatens to send them to Europe, Germany's leader is in a vise.
Feeling squeezed.

Feeling squeezed.

Photographer: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

You have to feel for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As the de facto head of the European Union, she has lately found herself trying to negotiate the region's future with the autocratic leaders of Europe's two big neighboring powers -- first Russia, now Turkey -- and increasingly at their mercy.

Merkel was for a long time President Vladimir Putin's interlocutor on behalf of not only the EU, but also the U.S. At a point during the Ukraine crisis, though, she stopped volunteering. She realized Putin was lying to her and saw her as an opponent to be outmaneuvered and undermined. She turned to unifying the EU around a policy of isolating Putin and his regime, through sanctions.