Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. They are expected to speak on Friday, among other things, about Afghanistan and Belarus and about Ukraine, where Merkel will then travel.
It is also a kind of farewell because Merkel will retire next month after sixteen years as Chancellor. She has met no head of state as often as the German-speaking Putin, German media report. There is also no one in such high office with whom she has telephoned so often and for so long.
When Putin had only been president for two years, he already had Merkel over the floor. In early 2002, she went as CDU chairwoman to the new Russian leader, who previously worked for the KGB secret service and was still an enigma to many. Putin stared at her silently on her first visit, and Merkel later said she didn’t flinch and passed “the KGB test.”
After Merkel became Chancellor, the two spoke often, and on visits to Moscow, Merkel could count on jokes or bullying from the dog-themed host. Putin knew Merkel is afraid of dogs.
Another thorny talking point Friday may be the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which will double Russia’s gas supply to Germany. Merkel lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before her visit to Putin, and after the interview, the two hold a press conference.
Merkel will visit the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday. She will speak with President Vladimir Zelensky, who is expected to award her a high Ukrainian award.