40% of Germans approve Putin's annexation of Crimea: poll

29 November 2014

Russian president Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea has won him support in an unlikely country - Germany. An opinion poll last Sunday revealed that nearly 40 per cent of the country's population accepted the move, The Washington Post reported.

The findings of the poll have raised a debate in Germany, as some ask  whether Germany -- which just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Soviet-era communism -- Russia's closest ally in the West?

Analysts say the answer is rather complex.

The opinion poll last week was conducted by Infratest dimap, a well-regarded German institute that interviewed 1,000 Germans above the age of 14. The poll also determined that 43 per cent of Germans did not feel immediately threatened by Russia's foreign policy, which did not necessarily mean Germans considered Putin's actions justified.

According to the Infratest dimap survey conducted in August, 80 per cent of Germans had then blamed Putin for the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The more recent poll could indicate that Germans wanted to stop Putin from pursuing his strategy in eastern Ukraine, though, they believed the West too needed to make a concession - by officially accepting the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle's Volker Wagener opined on dw.de that German chancellor,  Angela Merkel preferred to avoid confrontation in domestic politics, but it was not always the case where foreign policy was concerned. He commented  Merkel had turned out to be a formidable opponent for Putin.

She is among those threatening Russia with sanctions resulting in a falling rouble at a time when oil prices were sinking. Putin would not make concessions, but Merkel was determined to not let him get away.

In Brisbane, at the G20 summit, German and Russian relations were under scrutiny; and there was even talk of a G2 summit between the two leaders.

Merkel followed an unambiguous Russia strategy  - to establish a clear position and to talk about it. Since the annexation of Crimea, Merkel and Putin had had verbal "clashes" on 35 occasions.

Merkel commanded respect in Russia. Strong women had proved popular there in the past and the "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher was held in some esteem back in Soviet days - an exceptional figure of strength from the mollycoddled west, Wagener said.

''Merkel can afford to be both gracious and a steadfast critic. Russia needs the chancellor, and Germany. Moscow has an antipathy to the US, while there is disdain for the EU as an institution,'' Wagener concluded.

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