Angela Merkel visited Russia for the last time as chancellor of Germany. In the Kremlin, she met President Vladimir Putin. One of the main topics of the talks was the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
– 15 kilometers left at sea. It can be considered that completion is near, said Vladimir Putin during the Friday meeting with Angela Merkel, speaking about the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. He stated that the opinions that it is a political project are an attempt to mislead. He argued that the gas pipeline is 2,000 kilometers shorter than the gas transmission route through Ukraine.
At a joint press conference, Merkel said that Nord Stream 2 “is not a bilateral Russian-German project, but a European project, because other companies from other countries also participate in it.”
Contract with Ukraine
The German chancellor, who will visit Kiev on August 22, confirmed that she had talked with Putin about the Russian-Ukrainian gas contract. This contract – as she emphasized – “can and should be extended after 2024”. Putin assured that Russia will “fully honor its obligations under the transit contract”, also when Merkel leaves the post of German chancellor.
After 2024 – continued Putin – Russia is ready to extend the contract with Ukraine, but it should “know for what date and for what amount of (gas)”. He said Russia could not sign the transit contract “if there were no contracts for the supply of (gas) to consumers in Europe”. So, he argued, the Russian side “should receive an answer from European partners”.
The Russian leader assured that German and European consumers did not have a more reliable source than gas from Russia.
The Donbas question
In the words of the Russian president, he informed Merkel that a bill appeared in Ukraine, which – if adopted – would mean that “Ukraine will in fact unilaterally leave the Minsk process (Minsk agreements on settling the conflict in Donbas – ed.)”. In this project, Putin said, “everything is contrary to the Minsk agreements”.
Merkel admitted that progress in the talks about the Donbas conflict “is not as much as she would like to see it.” However, she argued that the Minsk format should not be allowed to “end up in a dead end”.
An appeal for the release of Navalny
During talks with Putin, the German chancellor called again for the release of Alexei Navalny and announced that Berlin would continue to follow the issue. Putin, without mentioning the opposition’s name, said at a press conference that Navalny was convicted not of political activity, but of breaking the law.
“People who strictly follow the law themselves should fight corruption,” he said. He added that no one should hide behind political activity in order to “carry out business projects”.
At a press conference, Putin officially commented on the situation in Afghanistan for the first time. As he assessed, the most important thing is to prevent terrorists from getting to neighboring countries. He noted that the Afghan Taliban announced the end of hostilities and guaranteed the security of their citizens and foreigners. Putin called for an end to – as he put it – “irresponsible policy of imposing someone else’s values from outside”.
During the meeting in the Kremlin, Angela Merkel stated that “although there are differences between us, it is good that we are talking to each other”. The German chancellor mentioned among the topics of talks with Putin, inter alia, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as civil society and NGOs.
The Russian president called Merkel’s visit to Moscow “farewell”, but added that it was also a substantive visit, because “there are many issues that need to be discussed in person.” The chancellor in Russia last appeared before the September elections to the Bundestag, in which – after 16 years as the head of the government – she will not run for the office of chancellor.
Before the talks began, Merkel laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Kremlin Wall to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / EVGENY ODINOKOV / KREMLIN / SPUTNIK / POOL