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Germany's Merkel and Russia's Putin Meet Amid Tensions

File photo of Chancellor Merkel and President Putin. They are due to meet for talks in Sochi - AFP

File photo of Chancellor Merkel and President Putin. They are due to meet for talks in Sochi - AFP

02/05/2017 10:12

(Vatican Radio) The chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel is due to meet Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Russia for the first time since 2015. Tuesday's gathering comes at a time of troubled bilateral relations over the war in Syria and Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report: 

The leaders meet at Putin's summer residence in Sochi to see if they can overcome the biggest tensions between them since the end of the Cold War.

However that is difficult as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Putin remain divided over Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014. Germany was a driving force behind the European Union
sanctions imposed in response.

Merkel wants Russia to seek an end to the conflict in Ukraine by using its influence on pro-Russian separatists. The West has accused Russia of supporting the rebels with weapons and troops in the fighting that killed some 10,000 people, charges Russia


However Merkel also needs Moscow's cooperation to bring peace to Syria. That is difficult as Moscow supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and his forces, while the West opposes him.  

Yet President Putin equally needs Merkel's support in to lift the EU's sanctions and he is also keen to hear her opinion of US President Donald Trump, whom she recently met.

They spoke frequently before the breakdown in communications since 2014. It helps that Merkel speaks Russian, having grown up in communist East Germany, while Putin speaks German, from his years working for the secret service KGB in Dresden in the 1980s.

But despite their language skills both sides have downplayed the prospect of major breakthroughs during their meeting in Sochi.

Putin will later meet Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, amid concerns in the West over what it views as his autocratic style. 

02/05/2017 10:12