Former German chancellor Merkel declines further debate over Russia
The then German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at her farewell ceremony by the German Armed Forces. Odd Andersen/AFP POOL/dpa
The then German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at her farewell ceremony by the German Armed Forces. Odd Andersen/AFP POOL/dpa

As Germany overturns longstanding military and energy policies in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, former chancellor Angela Merkel has declined to issue any more statements about her policy towards the Kremlin during her time in power.

Her successor, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, called the war a "turning point in history" and has started a massive increase in military spending, a rapid turnaround in energy policy, as well as the unprecedented export of arms to a conflict zone.

With her diplomatic efforts regarding Russia over some 16 years in power apparently in tatters, the conservative Merkel, currently on holiday in Italy, is not joining the debate raging at home - for the time being at least.

She has previously strongly condemned the war and lent her support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. At the same time however she has stood by a past decision regarding Ukraine's NATO membership that Zelensky himself criticized.

But that, said her spokesperson on Wednesday, will be the extent of her contribution for now.

Her written statements "still remain valid. Therefore no further statement from the retired chancellor is planned," her spokesperson said.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who served as foreign minister under Merkel between 2005 and 2009, has, by contrast, admitted to misjudgements in his dealings with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Merkel would be returning from her trip, where she was seen visiting an art gallery in Florence, on Monday, the spokesperson said.

After weeks of building pressure, including from Kiev and the conservative opposition, the German government is considering the delivery of new weapons systems to Ukraine and has thrown its support behind an EU embargo on Russian coal.

Germany has already sent anti-tank weapons and ammunition to Ukraine in large quantities, but so far it has not acceded to Ukrainian requests for tanks.

Berlin still rejects an immediate embargo on Russian oil and gas imports, saying it would harm the German economy more than the Russian one.

Scholz is due to address parliament on Wednesday, where he is likely to face questions on the killings in Bucha and Germany's response to the Ukraine conflict.

Protesters are expected to hold a demonstration against the war in Ukraine and in support of an energy embargo against Russia in Berlin's government quarter on Wednesday evening.