No agreement at Merkel, Putin meeting

Frederick Owens
August 19, 2018

The Russian president is also set for informal talks with the German chancellor on Saturday about a number of issues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was more "Glee" than KGB as he danced with Austria's foreign minister at her wedding Saturday.

Putin said that by signing the contract, bilateral cooperation is further secured. The two leaders took no questions.

Russian Federation has shut off gas supplies to Ukraine in the past, having knock-on effects in the European Union.

Putin told reporters that such a move had to make sense for Moscow from a business perspective.

"In the context of the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, which, unfortunately, does not make headway at all, we are inclined to stress the lack of alternative to implementation of the Minsk agreements, to note our interest in working within the Normandy format and the contact group, our readiness to continue cooperating with the United Nations special monitoring mission", Putin said.

The goal of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is to double the existing pipeline's annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters.

Putin is facing the possibility of more USA sanctions on Russian Federation imposed by Trump, and has an interest in softening or heading off any European support for them.

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Putin, alongside Merkel, cited the pipeline as a key economic bond. "By that, I mean above all humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and help the regions where refugees living overseas can return to". U.S. President Donald Trump exited the deal in May.

Mr Putin will attend the wedding of the country's foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, to entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger at a vineyard in Styria state.

Joerg Leichtfried from the opposition Social Democrats tweeted that Austria's current presidency of the Council of the European Union put it in an especially delicate spot given tensions between Putin and the West.

"We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict", he said ahead of a meeting with his German counterpart Angela Merkel at the government retreat of Meseberg castle 70km (45 miles) north of Berlin.

On Syria, Germany wants Putin to finalize a lasting ceasefire there with the United States.

The two leaders last met in Sochi in May and struggled to overcome differences. Merkel said a four-way meeting on Syria involving Germany, Russia, Turkey, and France is possible.

Top their their agenda on Saturday was the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

While Merkel was cautious about the likelihood of making progress on longstanding disputes, others in her new governing coalition seemed more hopeful.

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