HELMUT SCHMIDT: SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA ARE A “FOOLISH THING”
By Peter Muehlbauer
[This article published on 3/26/2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.heise.de
EX-GERMAN CHANCELLOR: PUTIN’S ACTION IS “ENTIRELY UNDERSTANDABLE”
The Hamburg Helmut Schmidt born just after the end of the First World War was the chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982. Today Schmidt is editor of the weekly Die Zeit  and gives his opinion on world affairs there and on television.
Like other persons well advanced in years, Schmidt has no regard for party, career and taboos which often makes his statements more original and readable than statements of active politicians. That is also true for his commentaries on the current Russian policy of the EU and the US.
For example, Schmidt considers the sanctions now imposed as a “foolish thing,” not as a sensible or appropriate reaction to the assimilation of the Crimea in the Russian Federation. Sharper sanctions should not be imposed. In his opinion that would be even greater nonsense and would “strike the West as well as the Russians.”
The man who governed in the Cold War sees the resolution of the seven old industrial countries not to cooperate any more as the G8 group with Russia as similarly counter-productive. He has the opposite opinion that cooperating is “agreeable to peace.” Moreover the G8 group “in reality” has long not been as important as the new G20 “from which the Russians were not ushered out in the past.”
Schmidt agrees with many active politicians in the assessment that the current situation is dangerous. Unlike them, he does not see the causes of this danger only in the Russian president Vladimir Putin whose action in the Crimea crisis he regards as “entirely understandable.” According to Schmidt, the situation is dangerous above all “because the West is really excited.” In his view this excitement ensures “a corresponding excitement in Russian public opinion and politics.”
Schmidt will not speculate whether Russia could become active in other provinces of the Ukraine inhabited by Russian population majorities although such a situation is “conceivable” to him. However he considers it “an error if the West acts as though that were inevitably the next step.” Such an attitude cou9ld lead to unintentionally “exciting the appetite on the Russian side.”
Another social-democratic ex-chancellor sharply criticized the current Russian policy before Helmut Schmidt. Gerhard Schroeder had to act out of a less credible position because after his time in office he accepted a high-paying advisory position to the Russian energy giant Gasprom. Schroeder so excited the Greens in the European Parliament that they wanted to impose a speaking prohibition.
William Rivers Pitt, Selling a Lemon, 3/27/2014 http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22739-selling-a-lemon
Wolfgang Pomrehn, BRICS: Support for Putin, 3/25/2014 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2014/03/426807.shtml