Fact Check: Merkel Does NOT Say In Interview That U.S., NATO Planned War In Ukraine Against Russia

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Merkel Does NOT Say In Interview That U.S., NATO Planned War In Ukraine Against Russia No War Plans

Did former German Chancellor Angela Merkel reveal in an interview plans by the United States and NATO for war in Ukraine with Russia? No, that's not true: Nowhere in her interview with the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, which was published in November 2022, does she talk about NATO plans for the war.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post and a Telegraph blog (archived here) published on December 9, 2022, under the title "Merkel Spills Beans on How U.S. and NATO Partners Planned War in Ukraine Against Russia." The article opens:

As Merkel's comments reveal, the war mentality in the West against Russia has been extant for over a decade if not longer.

It is becoming irrefutably clear that the United States and its NATO partners have been planning for many years for the current war in the Ukraine against Russia. That fact makes the prospects for peace all the more elusive. How to negotiate with a mindset that is so deeply invested and ingrained with belligerence?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Germany Merkel.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Dec 27 17:02:18 2022 UTC)

Der Spiegel

The Facebook post and Telegraph blog both cite a lengthy Der Spiegel interview (archived here) (English-language version here) with Merkel that was published in November 2022. While the former chancellor does talk about the U.S., NATO, Russia and the war in Ukraine, nowhere does she spell out where it's "irrefutably clear that the United States and its NATO partners have been planning for many years for the current war in the Ukraine against Russia."

On page 49 of Der Spiegel, the authors of the story paraphrase Merkel's thoughts about earlier diplomatic efforts to head off a war in Ukraine. The article says:

She believes she bought time then, and later during the Minsk negotiations, that Ukraine could use to better resist a Russian attack. It is a stronger, more defensible country now, she says. Back then, she is certain, it would have been overrun by Putin's troops.

(Note: The above text was translated by Lead Stories staff.)

The Minsk negotiations, which are also known as Minsk I and Minsk II, were signed in the Belarussian capital in 2014 and 2015 in an effort to end the Ukraine conflict. Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

In another section of the article (page 53), Merkel also talked about the U.S., Russia and the war in Ukraine but, again, it was not about U.S. and NATO war plans against Russia.

In late June 2022, Merkel traveled to Washington and met with former U.S. President Barack Obama. The former chancellor had already been surprised by the lack of interest in the U.S. about Ukraine. The article says:

Even with Obama, she talked less about Russia than she thought. And even less about Germany.

'He's been out of office longer than I have, of course. I have the impression we're on the same page about Putin,' she says. 'We did everything we could after Russia's annexation of Crimea, to prevent further incursions, and coordinated our sanctions in detail.'

(Note: The above text was translated by Lead Stories staff.)

Russia took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, while Obama was still president.

Die Zeit

Although not mentioned in the Facebook post or the Telegraph blog, Merkel also gave a lengthy interview to another German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit. As with Der Spiegel, there is no discussion of a purported U.S.-NATO plan for war with Russia in Ukraine. The Die Zeit article is available here (page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4 and page 5).

Additional fact checks related to Ukraine can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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