The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted some people to criticize Germany's former leader for cultivating ties with Moscow. But Angela Merkel says she doesn't blame herself for not trying hard enough to prevent a conflict.
Merkel made the remarks while fielding questions from a journalist in a theater in Berlin on Tuesday.
She called the invasion "a big mistake." She added that it has no justification whatsoever, and said it is a brutal attack that violates international law.
However, she defended the agreement she brokered seven years ago in Minsk to ease fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
Merkel led Germany for 16 years before leaving office in December. She has faced criticism for expanding economic ties with Russia and supporting the development of Russian energy sources.
Merkel opposed Ukraine's bid to join NATO in 2008. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has blamed her "concession to Russia" for the torture of civilians in Bucha.
However, Merkel says Ukraine was not ready to be part of the alliance because the country wasn't "democratically stable." She added that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have seen Ukraine joining NATO as a "declaration of war."