The Chancellor of Germany visited Russia for the first time in a year. The US actions unwittingly bring Moscow and Berlin together: the countries are united in the need to maintain a nuclear agreement with Iran and build the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
The first meeting of the Russian President and the Chancellor of Germany took place in the Sochi residence of Vladimir Putin “Bocharov Ruchey” this year. Tradition to meet in May, the leaders have developed a long time – several times, Merkel visited Moscow, last year, May 2, also visited Sochi.
At the door of the Sochi residence, Merkel faced Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The prime minister left the residence after he introduced the new Russian government to the president. On the formation of the Cabinet in Medvedev took exactly ten days (the State Duma approved Medvedev in office on May 8). Merkel’s process lasted much longer: the new government in Germany, which she headed for the fourth time, was approved only in March, although the elections were held in September. Because of the lack of a stable government, many international negotiations with the participation of Germany, including Ukraine, have stalled.
This time the negotiations were not preceded by a formal greeting for the cameras, the leaders immediately began to work. Negotiations lasted about an hour and a half.
During the year, the topics of the talks, as follows from the statements of the leaders, have practically not changed: bilateral relations in the context of sanctions against Russia, not only European, but also constantly expanding American; construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline; the situation in Ukraine and in Syria. This year, another topic was added to the discussion topics: the US withdrawal from the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and the intention to return sanctions against Tehran, for which European companies can also fall. The positions of Germany and Russia on this issue coincide: The joint comprehensive action plan (VCPR) must be carried out by its other participants (besides Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany).
The dominant topic of the talks will most likely be the US withdrawal from the Iranian deal, showing that Washington “departs from multilateral, low-key politics and flirts with its power,” Rheinhard Krumm, director of the Vienna office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for Cooperation and Peace in Europe, told RBC on the eve of the talks.
“There was a specific situation after the US [out of a nuclear deal with Iran],” Merkel admitted at the press conference. According to her, the agreement concluded in 2015 is not ideal, but “better than nothing.” The main thing is to convince Iran of the need to be faithful to the agreement, the chancellor said.
Prior to Moscow, Merkel visited Bulgaria, where she agreed at the European Union summit with other colleagues to introduce a special regime that would allow European companies not to obey the US sanctions requirements. At the summit, the leaders decided to revitalize the 1996 Blocking Statute, which allows companies to demand from the persons who imposed sanctions to repair damages. In addition, the statute nullifies the effect in the EU of any decisions of foreign courts on the basis of these sanctions.
Putin drew attention to the fact that this law is similar to the law proposed by the State Duma to punish the execution of foreign sanctions on the territory of Russia. “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there is such a law in Europe. Now, and this was heard from Brussels, our colleagues want to use this law to protect against extraterritorial sanctions of the United States, “Putin recalled. Merkel confirmed that the law could be enacted and it provides compensation for the injured companies, but recommended that European companies “have no illusions that they will be large.”
Doubts about the US however still exist.
The US withdrawal from the agreement on Iran, the intention to raise import tariffs for steel and aluminum and the threat of imposing sanctions against the participants in the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline made European politicians talk about a crisis in the relations between the European Union and Washington. That is why, according to a source in the German government of Bloomberg, Berlin began to seek rapprochement with Russia. However, at a press conference, Merkel avoided rigid language. “We have a solid transatlantic friendship, which in history stood different opinions and different positions,” she diplomatically answered the question of how the discord in relations with the US is reflected in relations with Russia. Merkel recalled that she also in the most difficult times advocated that the Russia-NATO Council remain, as well as the dialogue between Russia and the EU. The Russia-NATO Council resumed its work after the crisis associated with the accession of the Crimea to Russia, the regular Russia-EU summits are still frozen.