Hansjörg Müller, an ex-AfD member of parliament, is known for his unique view of Russian President Putin, which aligns with his party’s beliefs. According to Müller and the AfD, Putin is a man of reconciliation who is “continuously provoked by a belligerent German government”, and he is someone onto whom many Germans project their desire for a strong statesman, like Bismarck.
Müller’s speeches, which often include conspiracy theories, have gained him a considerable following among the AfD supporters who hold an uncritical view of the Kremlin. They admire the “virile Russian president”, who seems much more powerful and decisive than the hesitant Merkel. According to Müller, Germany should be on the side of Russia and should escape from its dependence on the United States. He claims that “We Germans are powerless vassals of the Americans, militarily, politically and in our media.”
However, not everyone shares Müller’s views, and the division in Germany is geographical, cutting down through the country along the old East-West border. The Körber Foundation has researched German attitudes towards Russia and found that 30 percent of western Germans describe Russia as a “country that feels foreign to me,” while only 12 percent of eastern Germans did. Eastern German state governors repeatedly advocate for loosening sanctions against Russia.
Müller’s pro-Russian stance has caught the attention of Russia, which has engaged him, along with other former German MPs, to drive a wedge between the West. Russia’s strategy is to support populist parties in Europe to undermine the Western alliance. The peace demonstrations and the “Manifest für den Frieden” organized by left-wing politicians downplay the actions of totalitarian regimes and call for Germany to return to economic dependence on Russia, a country currently waging war in Europe.
In light of this, the leading Western politicians explained their stance on the Russian war of aggression more clearly, emphasizing the importance of unity in the Western alliance.
Russia is once again trying to use “useful idiots” from among former and current government officials, who are ready to voice the thesis that “not everything is so clear-cut” and equate the victim with the aggressor.