Merkel: Butikofer on how German Chancellor is 'presenting' Macron
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The German Chancellor, who will step down from her position in September after 15 years in office, has always had a strained relationship with the Russian President. Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said: “No other politicians on the global stage have been so good at getting on badly over such a long time as these two.” A number of issues remain unresolved including the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Ukraine and the brutal treatment of Alexei Navalny.
The meeting between the two superpowers comes on the anniversary of Mr Navalny’s poisoning, internationally believed to have been orchestrated by the Russian state.
Mr Navalny, the Kremlin’s fiercest and most organised opposition, is currently serving time in prison for violating his probation terms for a 2014 money laundering case after he spent too much time abroad in Germany recovering from his Novichok nerve agent poisoning.
Another controversial issue on the table in today’s meeting is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a huge infrastructure project which will see Russia provide 40 percent of Germany’s gas in a 1,232km long gas pipeline spanning the Baltic Sea.
The pipeline has deeply upset US President Joe Biden and there are justified fears that it will isolate Ukraine who stands to lose valuable transit fees as well as making Europe even more reliant on Russian gas.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called the pipeline a “powerful weapon being given to Russia”.
He was reportedly “surprised” and “disappointed” earlier this year when the US and Germany announced they had finally reached a deal to allow the pipeline to go ahead.
After her stop in Moscow Mrs Merkel will travel to Kyiv for talks with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president.
Many expect Ms Merkel to push for a breakthrough with the situation in Ukraine which has seen Russia act aggressively with its much smaller neighbour.
Tensions have remained fraught since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backed separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Ms Merkel’s ability to make an impact on this issue as she departs office is in doubt since peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have remained in a steely deadlock for months.
Over the years, the German Chancellor has grown to deeply distrust the Russian President, on what terms Ms Merkel will leave their relationship remains to be seen.
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18:35 Navalny case still 'puts great strain on [Germany's] relationship to Russia'
The Alexei Navalny poisoning and imprisonment weighs heavy on German – Russian relations, according to a spokespserson for Angela Merkel.
The spokesperson said: “This still unresolved case of course puts great strain on our relationship to Russia.
“Our demands have still not been met.
“You will also know that Mr Navalny is unjustly imprisoned, spends his sentence in a penal camp and that there are even new charges being raised against him.
“All these points weigh on the relationship between Germany and Russia.”
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