Former German Chancellor Schmidt: Ukraine Conflict Might Turn into Hot War

March 14, 2015

Interviewed by Bildzeitung, Helmut Schmidt warned that if the West failed to note Putin's real concerns, the conflict in Ukraine might escalate "even into a real hot war." Putin is less concerned about Ukraine, Poland, or Lithuania, he said, than about neighbors China, Pakistan, and the Central Asian states. The future of Ukraine is therefore "less important" for Putin.

Russia was surprised by and suffered from the EU eastward expansion in "a kind of Wild West period" under President Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s, Schmidt said, adding that Russian conduct at present is still a response to that. Putin has restored the international reputation of Russia again. "We are not obliged to like Putin's policy. But we have to understand it against the background of history and take it seriously," said Schmidt.