President Putin Talks ‘Tough’ to German Chancellor
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as Iran and a nat gas pipeline project during tough talks outside Berlin that ended with no clear-cut progress.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters no agreements were reached, but the meeting had simply been intended to “check the watches” after Ms. Merkel’s meeting with President Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in May.
Ties between the 2 countries have been strained since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in Y 2014.
The 2 leaders both viewed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project as a purely commercial venture, despite persistent fire by the US and Ukrainian governments, Mr. Peskov said.
“That is why it is necessary to take measures against possible non-competitive and illegal attacks from other countries in order to complete this project eventually,” he told reporters shortly before President Putin flew back to Russia.
At the start of the talks, Ms. Merkel underscored her expectation that Ukraine should continue to have a role in nat gas transit to Europe, and welcomed the start of discussions among the EU, Ukraine and Russia on that issue.
President Putin said such a move had to make sense from a business perspective.
“The main thing is that the Ukrainian transit meets economic demands,” he said. “Nord Stream 2 is exclusively an economic project.”
The United States is pressing Berlin to halt the pipeline that will carry nat gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea, arguing it will increase Germany’s dependence on Russia for energy.
Ukraine fears the pipeline will allow Russia to cut it off from the gas transit business, while Germany’s eastern European neighbors worry about Russian encroachment.
Ms. Merkel said both countries have a responsibility to try to solve the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and Syria.
She said she also planned to raise potentially thorny human rights issues and discuss bi-lateral relations.
“I am of the opinion that controversial issues can only be addressed in dialogue and through dialogue,” she said.
The leaders raised concerns about Syria and the plight of the many refugees created by the 7-year-old war there.
Ms. Merkel said it was important to avert a humanitarian crisis in Idlib, Syria and the surrounding region, and said she and Putin had already discussed the issue of constitutional reforms and possible elections when they last met in Sochi in May.
President Putin speaking directly to reporters said that everything must be done to help Syrian refugees to return to their country and that Syria needed assistance to rebuild. He took no questions.
On Ukraine, Merkel said she hoped fresh efforts could be undertaken at the beginning of the new school year to disentangle Ukrainian military forces and separatists on the front lines in the Donbass region.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Welt am Sonntag the Germany hoped to “create new momentum” in the Minsk peace process. Sanctions relief for Russia would only be negotiated if the Minsk accord was implemented, he added.
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