Politics

Merkel arrives in Sochi to hold talks with Putin

German chancellor lands in Sochi - her first visit to Russia in two years - to improve bilateral relations.

Merkel and Putin shake hands at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi [Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks expected to focus on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The meeting on Tuesday comes after two other high-ranking German officials visited Moscow this spring in an apparent effort to revamp bilateral relationships.

The official purpose of Tuesday's meeting is the preparation of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, but the two leaders will also discuss the crises in Syria and Ukraine. 

Putin to hold talks with Merkel in Sochi

In March, Putin told visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that he wanted to improve relations between the two countries, which had deteriorated after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

The so-called Minsk agreements which are supposed to end the conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist forces have not been fully implemented.

The meeting comes more than a week after a monitor from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was killed by a landmine in Luhansk, one of the two eastern Ukrainian regions where armed groups are fighting for secession.

The Russian ambassador to Germany was quoted by the media as saying that Merkel's visit comes amid a "highly confrontational situation".

READ MORE: Why do Russians love Putin so much?

German opposition parties from the Left have called on the chancellor to take the first step and try to make amends. The leader of the Left Party demanded an "end the ice age of German and Russian ties", according to newspaper reports.

The Greens took it one step further and asked that Merkel distance herself from the NATO missile defence shield in eastern Europe, local media reported.

The Kremlin has repeatedly criticised the shield and boasted about its capabilities to destroy it. Russia is also unhappy with NATO soldiers being deployed in the Baltic region and Poland.

 

Source: News agencies