EU Must Establish 'Direct Contact' With Putin: Germany's Merkel

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 24, 2021 - 01:26 PM

On Thursday German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the European Union to seek better relations with Russia - comments which came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin published an op-ed in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit which called for "partnership" in Russia-Europe relations and not the current climate of confrontation.

"In my opinion, we as the European Union must also seek direct contact with Russia and the Russian president," Merkel said in an address to the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Referencing the June 16 Putin-Biden summit in Geneva, which apparently the Europeans consider created enough positive momentum to build upon, Merkel said, "It is not enough for the American president to talk to the Russian president," while stressing that the EU side "must also create different formats for talks."

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Berlin no doubt also has in mind Biden's dropping of sanctions on the German company overseeing the Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipeline as an "opening" in the right direction, which the White House indicated was reluctantly done in order to not undermine relations with its close European ally. 

Perhaps ironically Germany has joined its Western partners in condemning both the recent Russian troop build-up episode near Ukraine, as well was alleged Russian human rights abuses, with the case of imprisoned Alexei Navalny foremost on this list - all the while Berlin has been unwavering in pushing the NS2 pipeline toward completion. 

The German Chancellor said further in her speech according to Moscow Times

Merkel said recent events had shown that it was not enough "if we react to the multitude of Russian provocations in an uncoordinated manner."

Rather, the 27-member bloc should put up "a united front against the provocations."

The day prior a report in FT cited EU diplomatic insiders who said that "Germany believes that the Biden-Putin summit provides a template for restoring relations with Russia."

EU communications with Putin have remained at a low-point, and essentially non-existent in terms of any formal mechanism, since Crimea came under Russia which the West has long condemned as an act of "annexation" and expansionist aggression committed against Ukraine. All of this appears a move to restore normalized and more permanent and even positive EU communications with the Kremlin.

However, it remains that "the proposed new outreach activities with Moscow may alarm some EU member states, such as the Baltic States and Poland, which are adjacent to Russia and want to take a tougher stance against the Kremlin," according to the FT report.

This pushback is coming loud and fierce on Thursday, according to Politico...

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he has no objections to the Franco-German proposal of an EU summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — as long as he doesn’t have to participate himself. "I don’t mind a meeting with Vladimir Putin by the two presidents," Rutte said, referring to European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. "I will not participate in a meeting with Vladimir Putin myself."

Relations with Russia are a sensitive topic for Rutte, as 196 Dutch citizens died in the downing of the MH17 flight in 2014, for which the Netherlands and large parts of the international community hold Russia responsible.

And more: "Russia is already causing tension in the [Europe] Council building, with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas pushing back against the idea of an EU summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin."

As expected, Poland is also said to be leading the pushback against the Franco-German calls for greater dialogue and engagement.