Angela Merkel, chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is nominated for her role in forging a strong, united European response to the crisis with Russia over Ukraine.
In 2014, Angela Merkel emerged as the leader of the Western response to the crisis with Russia over its interventions in Ukraine. She used Germany’s pivotal position within the EU to unite European partners in support of the principles of territorial integrity and political and economic freedom for all European nations.
Chancellor Merkel was unstinting in her diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis at its outset following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, making full use of her personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin. As the crisis escalated to engulf eastern Ukraine, Europe could have been divided, but Merkel convinced an initially sceptical German public, business sector and policy community − as well as many wavering EU governments − of the fundamental threat that Russian escalation posed to Europe’s security order. Under her leadership, the EU forged a package of targeted economic sanctions against Russia that demonstrated the Union’s willingness to sacrifice its commercial interests in order to uphold the EU’s fundamental goal of building a rules-based order in Europe.
As the crisis persisted during 2014, Merkel raised European sights to the broader challenge presented by growing Russian activism in vulnerable European states from the Baltics to the Balkans, undertaking an unprecedented schedule of visits to European capitals to underscore her case. At the same time, true to her belief that the crisis will only be resolved through diplomatic negotiation, Merkel has sought to keep lines of communication open to the Kremlin.
Throughout the crisis Angela Merkel has offered a rare example of political leadership willing to take on national public opinion in pursuit of a difficult but essential European strategic policy objective.