Syria, Ukraine to be discussed in Merkel-Putin meeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for talks on Tuesday, with preparations for July's G20 summit as well as Ukraine and Syria on the agenda

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet President Vladimir on Tuesday in her first visit to Russia since 2015 in a sign of renewed dialogue between Berlin and Moscow (File photo)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet President Vladimir on Tuesday in her first visit to Russia since 2015 in a sign of renewed dialogue between Berlin and Moscow (File photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Tuesday meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in her first visit to Russia since 2015, signalling renewed dialogue between Berlin and Moscow.

The meeting comes at a low point in bilateral relations over the war in Syria and Russia's annexation of Crimea, as Moscow's ties with the EU have plunged to a post-Cold War low.

The official purpose of the meeting is to discuss the G20 summit of world leaders to be held in Hamburg in July, but the leaders are also expected to discuss Syria and Crimea, although no breakthroughs are expected.

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.

Moscow has responded with an embargo on agricultural products from the West.

In her first official visit to Russia last week, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini insisted that cooperation between the two sides was "not frozen" but said that progress was hampered by profound disagreements on subjects including Ukraine and Syria.

Merkel's visit to Russia comes after Putin called for the countries' relations "to fully normalise", while meeting German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel in March.

According to the BBC, Merkel wants Russia to seek an end to the conflict in Ukraine by using its influence on pro-Russian separatists, and also needs Moscow's cooperation to bring peace to Syria. But Putin equally needs Merkel's support in to lift the EU's sanctions. Putin is also keen to hear her opinion of US President Donald Trump, whom she recently met.

Merkel last visited Russia in May 2015 when she met Putin in Moscow but, like most Western leaders, snubbed a Red Square parade for the 70th anniversary of World War II victory.

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