German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to meet for their first bilateral summit in Germany since Russia annexed neighbouring Ukraine’s Crimea region four years ago.
The meeting on Saturday offers the leaders an opportunity to strengthen ties in the face of aggressive trade policies from US President Donald Trump, including US tariffs on European Union steel and aluminium and expanded US sanctions against Russia.
Merkel and Putin last met in the southern Russian city of Sochi four months ago for talks that focused on the Ukraine crisis as construction began for an expansion of a natural gas pipeline directly from Russia to Germany.
Ukraine’s leadership has staunchly criticised the pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, as undermining the EU’s efforts for Russia to return Crimea and resolve a simmering pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
The meeting, which will take place at the government guest house Schloss Meseberg outside Berlin, is expected to cover the Ukraine conflict, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the Syrian civil war, according to a German government spokesperson.
Merkel warned on Friday against expecting too much from her discussions with Putin at the government’s Meseberg palace, but said the two countries needed to remain in “permanent dialogue” on the long list of problems they face.
“It’s a working meeting from which no specific results are expected,” she told reporters.
Putin arrives in Germany after a stop at an Austrian vineyard to attend Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s wedding.