20 March 2018

Angela Merkel, Russia’s next target

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It’s no surprise that Russia met President Obama’s expulsion of its diplomats, which he announced Thursday in response to the Kremlin’s efforts to manipulate the 2016 election, with a collective shrug. Moscow seems content to let the clock run out, knowing that on Jan. 20 Mr. Obama will be replaced by an admirer in the White House and an old friend in the State Department. reports that, But the changeover is bittersweet; President Vladimir V. Putin has also lost a beloved boogeyman. For the foreseeable future, the United States can hardly serve as Russia’s preferred enemy of the state. So guess who qualifies best as a new, well, boogeywoman? Angela Merkel.

The German chancellor is a perfect target. 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.

Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ms. Merkel has been the most consequential voice for punishing Russia. The next 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. And 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.

It seems that Russia may be planning to do to Ms. Merkel and her allies in 2017 what it did to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in the United States in 2016.

2017.01.02 / 19:44
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