On December 13th, the portal “Georgia First” published a Georgian translation of an article by the US-sanctioned organization “Strategic Culture Foundation” about former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, titled “Merkel recalls how the US and NATO planned war in Ukraine against Russia.” According to the publication, “the comments of the former German Chancellor reveal that the belligerent stance of the West towards Russia has existed for decades” and that it is gradually becoming clear how the US and NATO have been planning a war against Russia for years. The article also mentions Merkel’s interview with Der Spiegel and quotes Kremlin propagandist Scott Ritter saying that Berlin’s policy entailed buying time for Ukraine before going to war with Russia. The mentioned article was distributed by the Facebook pages “Georgia First” and “i ucnobi.”
The claim, as if Angela Merkel recalled the plans of the West to start a war against Russia in Ukraine, is false. The article by “Georgia First” does not include any quote by Merkel that would substantiate the voiced assertion. It only references Merkel’s interview with Der Spiegel, which does not contain any statements by the former chancellor about the alleged plans of NATO and the US to start a war in Ukraine.
The article published by “Georgia First” is a translation of an article by the US-sanctioned organization, the Strategic Culture Foundation, a website, which according to the US State Department, is run by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Angela Merkel’s quotes, which claim that the United States or/and the Western countries were planning a war against Russia in Ukraine, cannot be found in the “Georgia First” article. The article contains only one quote by Merkel, which is taken from an interview with Der Spiegel, where the former chancellor says that 2008 was the wrong time for Georgia and Ukraine to access NATO.
Merkel has repeatedly voiced her stance about the 2008 Bucharest summit and Germany’s position on the matter. In an interview given to the German Spiegel on December 1st, the former Chancellor notes that by 2008 she was still not in favour of the two countries joining NATO, and this issue was mainly a subject of interest for experts. Merkel believes that both during the 2008 Bucharest summit and during the Minsk talks, she managed to buy time for Ukraine to counter the Russian attack more effectively. According to the former Chancellor, Ukraine is now a strong, well-fortified country.
On July 5th, in an interview with journalist Alexander Osang, Merkel also spoke about the internal political situation in Ukraine, which, according to her, also had an impact on her decision. According to Merkel, although today Volodymyr Zelenskyy is boldly fighting against systemic corruption, by 2008, Ukraine was actually ruled by oligarchs and was divided politically. In addition, according to Angela Merkel, from Putin’s point of view, granting the membership action plan to Ukraine would be perceived as a declaration of war and would cause enormous damage to Ukraine.
The article by Strategic Culture Foundation quotes Kremlin propagandist Scott Ritter, who wrote a piece on the topic for Consortium News. According to Ritter, the comments of Merkle make it clear that the Western countries deceived Russia and that after the US-backed Euromaidan in 2014, they started buying some time for Ukraine so that NATO could provide arms to Ukraine to capture Donbas and Crimea. In addition, according to Ritter, since Merkel knew that inviting Ukraine into NATO would trigger a Russian military response, but she still decided to provide arms to Ukraine, it indicates that war was the only option the West has ever considered.
The claims made by Scott Ritter echo the statements made by senior Russian officials about the Minsk agreement. Vladimir Putin also responded to one of Merkel’s interviews with the German publication Die Zeit calling it “unexpected and disappointing”.
Both with Die Zeit and in other interviews, Merkel repeatedly emphasized that the threat of war came from Russia and that strengthening Ukraine’s defence capabilities was necessary for this very reason.
According to Merkel, the 2014 Minsk agreement was an attempt to give Ukraine time to strengthen, because by 2015, as the Battle of Debaltseve showed, Putin would easily defeat it. However, according to Merkel, NATO countries would not be able to provide as much assistance to Ukraine as they do today. Also, the former chancellor explains that it was clear to everyone that the conflict was frozen and the problem was not solved.
As for the issue of Ukraine joining NATO, the former German chancellor explained to Die Zeit that the initiative of Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO at the time of the 2008 Bucharest summit was wrong, because none of the countries had enough prerequisites for it, and the consequences of this decision were not fully understood. Merkel pointed out the fact that it was unclear to what extent NATO would be able to provide assistance in case of possible Russian aggression against Georgia and Ukraine.
In the interview, Angela Merkel does not talk about the implementation of the points of the Minsk agreement, and she does not consider a possible war between Ukraine and Russia as a desirable outcome.
Scott Ritter is among the Western experts who have been actively disseminating Kremlin propaganda messages since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. False and manipulative claims made by Scott Ritter have been verified by “Myth Detector” in the past. See our articles for more details:
- The Document Allegedly Depicting the Losses of Ukraine is Fabricated
- Kremlin Expert Questions the Blame of the Russian Soldiers in the Bucha Massacre
- 3 Ukraine-related Disinformation Disseminated by Russian Propaganda Platforms
About the Sources
Strategic Culture Foundation
The English-language website of “Strategic Culture Foundation” does not include any information regarding the foundation, its founders or the contact persons. However, it should be noted that the previous logo of the foundation was identical to the Russian-language website fondsk.ru (Фонд стратегической культуры), which created the impression that these two organizations were linked to each other or represented a single entity. As of now, the logo of the Strategic Culture Foundation is different and no longer matches the logo of its Russian counterpart.
“Strategic Culture Foundation” (Фонд стратегической культуры) is a Moscow-based organization headed by the former leader of the Communist Party of Moscow and a member of the Soviet Politburo, Yuri Prokofiev. Its editor-in-chief is Vladimir Maksimenko. In 1990-1991, Prokofiev was the first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and a member of the Soviet Politburo. Vladimir Maksimenko works for the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and simultaneously serves as an analyst for the Russian state-owned radio station “Голос России” (Voice of Russia). According to the report published by the U.S. Department of State in 2020, the Strategic Culture Foundation is controlled by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and is closely affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In April 2021, the US Department of the Treasury, among other organisations controlled by Russian intelligence, imposed sanctions on the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Strategic Culture Foundation is active on Telegram and Russian social media ВКонтакте. Notably, the Telegram channels of both the Russian– and English-language portals share articles from the online platform telegra.ph.
In addition, selected contributors of the English-language platform also wrote articles for the Russian-language platform. Such authors include Anna Filimonova (1,2) and Anton Veselov (1,2).
The articles prepared by the Strategic Culture Foundation are often referenced by “Veterans Today,” a portal owned by Jeffrey Silverman, who is one of the main sources of disinformation about the Lugar Laboratory in Georgia. Silverman also has ties with the pro-Kremlin portal South Front.
The website of the information portal “Georgia First” was created in November 2022. The presentation of the new portal was held by the founder Vato Shakarashvili on November 7th. Among the guests and speakers at the presentation were Gia Gachechiladze, the founder of the organization “Ai Ia,” pro-governmental expert and movie director Goga Khaindrava, and members of the “People’s Power” movement, who are known for their anti-American rhetoric.
According to a post published on the Facebook page of the portal, “Georgia First” is a conservative, informational-analytical portal, the founders of which are Vato Shakarishvili, Irma Sanadze, Nutsa Lomadze and Koto Gachechiladze. As for the general goals of the portal, according to the post, it aims to gain an advantage against the prevailing ideology of political correctness and neoliberalism in the ongoing informational-propaganda war by spreading content “corresponding to the declared values”.
The portal often publishes anti-Western content aimed at criticizing EU institutions, NATO and the US presidential administration. The portal also published a fabricated quote by US congressman Jamie Raskin, according to which Russia should be destroyed because it is an Orthodox country. See more about the quote in the article prepared by “Myth Detector:”
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