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“It’s a New Story”: German Ambassador Emily Haber on Germany’s Break With Russia

Berlin’s top envoy to Washington discusses the reasons behind German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s bold response to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine—and what’s next.

Last weekend, new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a powerful speech announcing major changes in German policy in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“With the invasion of Ukraine, we are in a new era,” Scholz said. He announced that Germany would take a strong role in checking Russia’s aggression through funding its military and increasing defense spending. He also announced that Germany would learn to live without the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that it had worked for years with Russia to complete and bring into service. In Berlin that day, hundreds of thousands gathered in the Tiergarten to protest the invasion and support Germany’s stand against Putin’s actions. 

Emily Haber is a German diplomat who has served as the German ambassador to the U.S. since 2018. But she actually spent much of her diplomatic career based in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. So she’s deeply familiar with the region’s painful history—including, as she readily acknowledges, the role played by her own country. 

TNR editor Michael Tomasky spoke with Haber on Friday, March 4. She spoke about the factors behind Scholz’s speech and Germany’s change of heart, debate within Germany about the policy moves, and Russia’s past and Putin’s ambitions.  

Watch Tomasky’s conversation with Haber