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Markus Söder at Lanz (ZDF): "Putin lied to all of us"

Have the CSU and its chairman Markus Söder been pro-Russian for too long? Markus Lanz with the Bavarian Prime Minister and other guests.

Berlin – The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine continues to have a firm grip on German talk shows. With ZDF moderator Markus Lanz, the Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU chairman Markus Söder takes a position on the relationship between his party and German politics towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Political scientist Daniela Schwarzer, Director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations, will also take part and analyze international diplomatic efforts to end the Ukraine conflict. The ZDF reporter Katrin Eigendorf, who reports from the Ukrainian crisis area, is switched on. Sabine Fischer from the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and the President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratscher, complete the round on Tuesday evening with Markus Lanz.

At the beginning of the program, Markus Lanz talks to Katrin Eigendorf, who is tuned in from the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, about the mood in the Ukrainian civilian population. Lanz asks his colleague Eigendorf whether the defense of Ukraine, which has cost many lives, is now being rejected as pointless and too costly among the civilian population? However, the ZDF reporter can clearly deny this: “The majority of Ukrainians do not want to live under a Russian dictatorship and they are willing to stand up for this in this war,” Eigendorf paints the picture of a solid civil society position in Ukraine. “The will is unbroken!”

Ukraine war with Markus Lanz: “The nightmare of the Russian political leadership”

On the other hand, rejection of Russia’s attack on Ukraine is also growing on the other side: SWP Russia expert Sabine Fischer points this out to the Russian journalist Marina Ovssyannikova, who protested against the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a live news broadcast. For Fischer, the video is “the nightmare of the Russian political leadership”: “This is the majority that has supported Vladimir Putin’s actions so far and could simply rethink at some point,” Fischer paints a picture of a Russian civil society whose opinion may turn against Vladimir Putin could: “This war has caused a huge shock in society and people are becoming more and more afraid,” says Fischer. Putin’s propaganda has been going on for 15 years now and is increasingly forcing people who don’t agree with it to emigrate internally and externally.

Markus Lanz on ZDF The guests of the show from March 15th, 2022
Markus Soder Prime Minister of Bavaria (CSU)
Daniela Schwarzer political scientist
Katrin Eigendorf journalist
Sabine Fischer political scientist
Marcel Fratzscher economist

The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, who was connected from Munich, emphasizes: “Putin lied to everyone.” Nobody expected that Russia was on the way to a dictatorship in this form. “Putin overestimated his own strength. Will he win the war in the long run? I don’t think so,” Söder said in an interview. But Markus Lanz also asks the Prime Minister whether he and his CSU party have not acted too pro-Russian for far too long. Markus Söder was also a guest of Putin shortly before the corona pandemic: “It was a polite conversation, I also addressed critical things, but that’s all I got out of it.” The political scientist Daniela Schwarzer sees that Putin understands energy issues was a reliable partner: “For too long, however, people have not taken Putin seriously by presenting a vision that he is now pursuing with the war in Ukraine.”

Ukraine war with Markus Lanz: “Seehofer was wrong at the time”

However, Markus Lanz voiced criticism of the CSU’s Bavarian-Russian friendship, which was sometimes documented by a joint visit by former Bavarian prime ministers Edmund Stoiber (himself a former member of the German-Russian raw materials forum) and Horst Seehofer. And Daniela Schwarzer also criticizes the “unwillingness of politicians to actually think through the worst-case scenario”. It was believed for too long that Putin would not attack Ukraine.

Markus Söder emphasizes that he does not have to defend Horst Seehofer’s visit to Russia at the time of the Russian bombardment of Aleppo. Nevertheless, he states: “Seehofer was wrong at the time, but also recognized this. And yet it is also in Germany’s interest not to have any extreme conflicts with Russia and to always talk to each other.” In the hope that everyone involved would make rational decisions, attempts were made to talk to each other. “However, if that is not the case, then you have to make a decision and act. And we did that in Germany.” And so Markus Söder confirms with Markus Lanz on ZDF: “The sentence ‘We are all Ukrainians’ means that we are emotionally and politically on the side of Ukraine.”

Ukraine war at Markus Lanz: Politics was asleep

For the economist Marcel Fratzscher from the DIW, it is clear that Germany has become too dependent on Russia, especially when it comes to energy policy issues. “We helped Putin build up his war machine with the annual 200 billion euros that he received from Germany for gas supplies,” Fratzscher said. “That was a mistake. And Vladimir Putin abused the resulting position.” The President of the German Institute for Economic Research therefore demands that politicians take responsibility for this and correct their mistakes. However, the path to independence from Russian energy imports does not work by extending the service life of German nuclear power plants. In fact, according to Fratzscher, politicians missed setting the course for the use of renewable energies 15 years ago. For the economist Fratzscher it is therefore clear: “Renewable energies are the right way. Also economical.”

To the broadcast

“Markus Lanz” on ZDF. The broadcast from March 15, 2022 online.

Now it is a matter of helping Ukraine and at the same time thinking about the economic prosperity of Germany’s own population, emphasizes Markus Söder. “However, an immediate exit from trade relations with Russia would have serious consequences for the Bavarian and German economy. The Independence Day of Russian energy should be reached as soon as possible, ”demands Söder in unison with the plan of the federal government. A concrete plan is now needed for this and in this context he criticizes Germany’s phase-out of nuclear energy, which has made Germany even more dependent on Russian energy imports. In view of this area of tension, Söder’s central statement sounds cynical: “But it’s also about Germany as an economy.” (Moritz Post)

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