German Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to play Sigmund Freud, particularly when the target of her psychoanalysis is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The December issue of The New Yorker recounts a 2007 incident between Ms. Merkel and the Russian president that solidified her belief that his behavior is rooted in one thing: machismo.
“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man,” Ms. Merkel told journalists after Mr. Putin allowed his dog to run up on her — likely knowing that she had been bitten in 1995 and might be frightened by the experience, The New Yorker reported. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”
Since the experience, Russia has annexed Crimea, aided pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and conducted large-scale maneuvers near European airspace that forced NATO member states to scramble jets.
Although Ms. Merkel speaks to Mr. Putin regularly, she has been candid about the the need for sanctions against Russia as a result of its actions in Ukraine.
“Nothing excuses or justifies Russia’s annexation of Crimea and nothing excuses Russia’s direct or indirect involvement in the fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk. … [T]herefore economic sanctions remain unavoidable and show that in our efforts to get through the crisis we will need patience and perseverance,” she said Nov. 26, The Associated Press reported.
A senior aide to Ms. Merkel told The New Yorker that she was surprised at the level of aggression Mr. Putin showed during March’s annexation of Crimea.
“Putin surprised everyone. The swiftness, the brutality, the coldheartedness. It’s just so twentieth century—the tanks, the propaganda, the agents, provocateurs,” the aide said, the magazine reported.