The chancellor travels to the Russian president: on the anniversary of the poison attack on Kremlin critic Navalny, she speaks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Moscow (dpa) – At the outset of her meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged them to keep in touch despite immense political tensions.
“I am happy that we can meet again here in the Kremlin, perhaps as a farewell visit, but also as a working visit,” the chancellor said on Friday after her arrival in Moscow. “Even if we have profound differences today, we talk to each other, and it should stay that way and classify and qualify German-Russian relations.”
Shortly before that, the CDU politician had laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Merkel recalled that 80 years ago Hitler’s Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War II.
Putin said contacts with the chancellor – including by phone – have always been intensive. Germany is an important trading partner for Russia. Merkel and Putin met at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. It is the chancellor’s 19th visit to Moscow, Russian state media reported.
“Time will be full,” Merkel said. It will also address the situation in Afghanistan and bilateral issues, such as the work of non-governmental organizations. Since Russia recently declared three German NGOs to be undesirable organisations, the St Petersburg Dialogue, which was established twenty years ago for civil society in both countries, has stopped working. Putin set up the body with then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The chancellor’s visit, who was last in Moscow in January last year, coincides with the first anniversary of the poison attack on Putin’s opponent Alexei Navalny. The opposition was nearly killed on August 20, 2020 with the chemical Novichok. He was treated at the Berlin Charité, where Merkel had also visited the Kremlin’s opponent.
The chancellor had requested clarification of the matter from the Russian authorities and later the release of Navalny, who had meanwhile been detained in the detention camp. It is the first time since the internationally condemned crime that Merkel and Putin will answer questions from journalists together after their meeting.