Exactly one year after the venomous attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Although there are “deep differences”, the German prime minister said before speaking to her host, we are talking to each other. The scheduled press conference was later delayed an hour and a quarter. Then Merkel and Putin went up to the assembled journalists. And again and again, lines of conflict flashed behind the official literature.
The Russian president spoke of “constructive” talks in a “business” atmosphere. He praised Merkel for her alleged deviation from politics, which is set to happen in a few months. After sixteen years in office, the chancellor is no longer running for the Bundestag elections in September. Until the subsequent government can start its work, however, it will continue to run the business.
Parforcer ride through a minefield
Putin began with the issue of Afghanistan and said that efforts should be made to ensure that the extremist Islamic Taliban movement could not expand its power beyond the country’s borders. It is important to prevent “terrorists” from reaching neighboring countries, for example by “pretending to be refugees”. He accused the West of trying to “impose values” on Afghanistan from the outside.
Courtesy Varnish: Flowers for a Guest from Berlin
Then Putin came to the conflict in Ukraine, addressed ceasefire violations in the east of the country and called on Merkel to influence the government in Kiev if she goes there on Sunday. The president also touched on Belarus on his horizon tour, as did Iran, which recently had a new president, and the conflict in Syria.
Noalani’s conviction is rejected.
Merkel began her statement with the memory of Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union 80 years ago and stated that she laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But she soon came to the condemnation of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny, who demanded that Putin release her.
“In our view, a conviction for remaining in a criminal colony on the basis of a previous judgment, which the European Court of Human Rights has classified as manifestly disproportionate, is inadmissible.”
“The annexation of Crimea violates the integrity of Ukraine”
With the aim of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the agreement between Germany and the USA on the project was discussed. The chancellor argued that Ukraine should continue to be a transit country for Russian gas – even after Nord Stream 2 became operational.
Merkel also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and then the situation in Ukraine. I have campaigned to “revive” the conversations that are supposed to help resolve the conflict there. Finally, it supported the well-known position of Berlin and other Western powers with a fundamental statement: Germany adheres to its position that the annexation of Crimea is a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
80 years after Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union: Merkel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow
“The talks have not always been easy,” Merkel said, summarizing her long experience with Putin. But there is no substitute for the constant exchange of arguments and “digging thick plates”. However, the political systems of Germany and Russia “diverged again” during their reign. Despite the significant differences, it was possible to keep the channel of conversation open.
Putin asks for ‘some objectivity’
When a journalist asked him what it would take to release Navalny, Putin replied – as usual, without giving his name – that he was not convicted of political actions, but that he broke the rules.
As for the opposition as a whole, he did not remember that protest movements in Western countries such as the “Occupy” movement were supported by the government. So he asked for a “certain objectivity”. The Russian system is developing. All citizens have the right to express their opinions – but within the legal framework. The Russian leadership will do “everything” to maintain the stability of the situation.
Relationships in the gutter
Navalny collapsed on August 20, 2020 on a flight from Tomsk, Siberia, to Moscow. Two days later, the opposition politician, who was still in a coma, was taken to the Berlin Charité for treatment. According to Merkel, it is “undoubtedly” that Navalny was attacked with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. In September, the chancellor spoke of an “attempted poisoning” and declared at the time: “He must be silenced.”
Russian dissident Alexei Navalny “must be silenced” (file photo)
After receiving treatment in Germany, Navalny was arrested upon his return to Russia in January, and later sentenced to more than two years in a camp for violating probation terms. Navalny’s political organizations are now classified as “extremist” and banned.
The fall of Putin’s prominent opponent has deteriorated already strained relations between Russia and the West since the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula to a new low. While the European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia, Moscow accuses the United States, the European Union and especially Germany of launching a “propaganda campaign”.
stay at work
At the same time, Berlin is interested not only in talking to the Kremlin, but also in business: Germany wants to get Russian gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The line should be completed soon. According to the company, 33.7 billion cubic meters of gas were pumped to Germany through the existing Nord Stream pipeline in the first seven months of this year. Nord Stream 2’s 99 percent transmission capacity, along with the pipeline already in operation, is expected to be 110 billion cubic meters annually.
Gas for the West: Information container via Nord Stream 2 at Lubmin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (file photo)
The United States, Ukraine and other European countries accuse the German government of making themselves dependent on Russian gas supplies through the new pipeline – as well as of weakening Kiev’s position towards Moscow. So far, Ukraine has been the most important transit country for gas supplies to Europe. Germany wants to ensure that Russia continues to route gas through Ukraine in the future so that a financially weak Ukraine does not lose its transportation income. The contract between Kiev and Moscow for the passage of gas to Europe expires in 2024.
jj/se (phoenix, dpa, afp, rtr)
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”