On May 10th President of Russia Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. German Chancellor as well as other European leaders refused to attend the parade held in Red Square, but considered important to maintain political contacts with Russia. Except for that Germany, being the aggressor country during the World War II, had to pass its compassion to the people of Russia.
On May 7th Berlin welcomed quite fruitful talks of the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov with his colleague Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Lavrov declared that Moscow put great hopes on the talks with Merkel on May 10. By this the background for the talks was quite favorable. During the meeting with Steinmeier Lavrov stated that “Germany is our most significant partner in European and international affairs. We intend to strengthen interaction, assist joint efforts to form new European architecture on the ground of equality, mutual respect following the principles of indivisibility, security and extended partnership in all areas - economy or humanities spheres”.
By this Lavrov pointed that Russia got the signs of NATO about possible recovery of cooperation. “Provided such offer is received, we shall reply in a constructive way”, said Russian Minister. Lavrov added that in Moscow “they heard information from Brussels that our NATO colleagues have resumed the operation of phone lines and confirmed their numbers”. He reminded that it was not at all Russia to initiate the break of interaction in the sphere of military coordination. “This was NATO’s initiative”, he specified. His colleague by this noted that he personally out efforts to resume the contacts.
The meeting was held against the background of aggravation of the situation in the east of Ukraine. Both parties blame each other in non-accomplishment of the Minsk obligation, fire is observed periodically. On May 6th a meeting of the contact group was held, which, according to Lavrov, “manages to promote gradually”. By this it’s worth to note that earlier Moscow had withdrawn the Ambassador of Russia to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov. According to Mass Media Moscow doubts his efficiency considering tight business-contacts with Petro Poroshenko. To substitute him a former Russian Ambassador to Syria Azamat Kulmukhametov was introduced into the group. It’s noteworthy that Zurabov had a technical mission during he talks, and the introduction of Kulmukhametov demonstrates the attempt of Russia to enhance its presence, which also means an intention to enhance the role of the contact group.
In his turn Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Volgoograd on May 7th. There he noted that respecting the memory of Stalingrad everyone should think over the options to resolve Ukrainian conflict peacefully. “Ukrainian crisis exists, with no doubts, recognized Steinmeier. – But for us these are two absolutely different subjects. Ukrainian crisis by no means impedes us to respect the memory of those events”. Typical is that during the address in course of the Victory Parade Vladimir Putin also mentioned German anti-fascists in the context of Nazism fighters.
On the eve of Merkel’s visit also the matter of the “Night Wolves” was resolved: German Foreign Affairs Ministry recalled the visas of the bikers. However German court cancelled the prohibition of German police on the club member’s entering the country. Except for that European bikers joined the race. As a result a number of the organization members participated in festive events in Berlin with no incidents – on the contrary, friendly atmosphere prevailed.
During the visit flower-laying ceremony at the unknown soldier’s grave took place. President of Russia Vladimir Putin in course of the meeting with Merkel stated that there were problems present within the relations between Russia and Germany. He also specified the need to strive for their fastest regulation. “Today there are certain problems. The sooner these problems stop effecting negatively on relations development, the better it shall be”, Putin said.
The result of the talks may also be the fact of further dialogue, but plenty of disagreements were also detected. In the context of history Putin positively commented on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and regarding Poland he declared that “it found itself to be the victim of the policy it was trying to accomplish in Europe” (meaning the participation of Poland in the division of Czechoslovakia). Already Merkel dwelled on the secret protocol to the Pact and on that it was “wrong and illegal”. Putin did not comment in this thesis. Thus in comparison with previous years Russia does not take even the minimum of responsibility for the initiation of the World War II.
When Ukrainian conflict was touched upon, Putin declared on the need of the direct dialogue with Kyiv, Donetsk and Lugansk (perceiving them as equal parties). He also noted that Russia and Germany have significant disagreements in evaluation of the events in Ukraine. In its turn Merkel stated that during the meeting they discussed “assistance for territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Putin did not talk about it, but underlined that it was necessary to proceed with the talks on Ukraine association with the EU “referring to Russian economic interests”. It is known that Ukraine and the EU would like to get this treaty into effect already this years, and Russia insists that it contradicts its economic interests (and that Russia is not interested for it to be in effect at all). If Putin underlined the need for Kyiv to withdraw the blockade from Donetsk and Lugansk, Merkel underlined the importance of withdrawal of the prohibition of the leaders of the “republics” on Ukrainian humanitarian provision.
A certain compromise may be reached in the issue of the need of elections holding in the east of Ukraine. “We have four working groups on economic, humanitarian, social issues and the matter of local elections”. Local elections should result in assurance of complete control along the border”, noted Merkel. Chancellor specified that in course of the meeting with President Vladimir Putin “she also felt from Russia” readiness to assist in the matter of elections. However Putin himself said nothing about border control.
The visit of Angela Merkel in Moscow took place within the situation when Germany intended to maintain the potential of relations with Russia as much as possible. However the dialogue is difficult – it is evident that the both parties are willing to maintain interaction, but do not trust each other. There are also persisting differences in priorities primarily in Ukrainian matter on which at the moment only local agreements instead of a strategic compromise are possible.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from politcom.ru