Among the discussion topics were bilateral relations, the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East and the implementation of the Minsk agreements – Reports Russian News Agency Ria.ru
Ties between Russia and Germany have worsened since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, with Germany being a driving force behind the EU sanctions imposed in response.
“Of course, we cannot but take advantage of this visit and discuss bilateral relations and the most problematic points, by which I mean Ukraine, Syria and possibly some other regions,” Putin said at the start of the talks with Merkel, quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Putin stressed that Germany remains Russia’s leading economic partner, “despite the known political difficulties and fluctuations in the global economic environment.”
“Russia seeks to build cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany on the principles of mutual benefit, respect, equality and consideration of each other’s interests,” the Russian leader said.
He drew attention to the growth of trade turnover between the countries.
“I note that the FRG is the largest buyer of Russian natural gas, deliveries from Russia cover almost 35% of the needs of the German market” , – Putin remarked
Touching upon the prospects for cooperation between Russia and Germany, Putin noted that cooperation of Germany and Russia is a significant contribution to the stabilization of the world economy.
Merkel, in turn, noted that negotiations with Putin are “intense”. Meanwhile, according to her, Moscow and Berlin should always continue the dialogue, despite the existing problems.
“When we talk with each other, we still understand each other better if we look at the centuries-old history. Still, we even understand that we should always keep a dialogue, because every conversation can teach something to something “, Said Merkel.
The Ukrainian crisis
One of the key topics of discussion was the situation in Ukraine.
“As we have already mentioned this, we spoke about the situation in Ukraine, which is of serious concern at the just-held meeting, we are in constant touch with other participants in the Norman format,” Putin said.
According to him, work in the Norman format across Ukraine will be continued. At the same time, Moscow and Berlin are in favor of strict implementation of the Minsk agreements.
“We agreed that among the main tasks should be the development of the forces and assets of the parties to the conflict, which will completely stop the bombardment, establish a direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognized republics, legislatively fix the special status of the regions and, on this basis, hold elections there,” declared Putin.
Putin called the events in the southeast of Ukraine “the result of a coup d’etat” and stressed that no one separated the Donbass from Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainian authorities themselves do this with the help of various blockades.
Merkel noted the two leaders’ “different opinions” about the origins of the conflict in Ukraine, which spiraled after protests over a scrapped accord with the EU triggered the downfall of the Russian-backed government in 2014.
“We don’t share this view,” Merkel said in the briefing, which dispensed with the usual pleasantries or leaders’ banter. “We think that the Ukrainian government came to power through democratic means.”
Merkel said she hopes to lift sanctions of Russia, but only if the Minsk agreement is implemented in Ukraine. In this case, according to the Chancellor, a new agreement on the settlement in Ukraine is inconceivable.
“Of course, this all (the settlement of the crisis) is connected with the Minsk political process, which is aimed at a future settlement … We, of course, want to ensure that Ukraine gets access to its state border,” Merkel added.
Merkel has been the main mediator with Putin over the crisis in Ukraine. She is a key proponent of keeping sanctions on Moscow in place until a stalled peace plan to end the conflict in Europe’s backyard is fulfilled.
Earlier this week German broadcaster Deutsche Welle suggested ahead of the visit that “the diplomatic ice age… might be nearing an end” as it sends “a strong diplomatic signal” of both sides’ willingness to engage.