Executive Intelligence Review


Putin and Merkel ‘Synchronize’ on Nord Stream 2, Syria, and Trade

Aug. 19, 2018 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met for three hours yesterday at the Schloss Meseberg, after Putin flew in from attending the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl. The Putin-Merkel press conference occurred prior to their meeting, because the talks were anticipated to end late in the day.

Sputnik cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that there was no goal of reaching any agreements; he characterized the two leaders’ discussions as “substantial,” and a useful discussion on “synchronization of watches” on a number of urgent issues.

President Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to continue its work with German businesses. Peskov said,

“Putin regularly communicates with representative of big German companies and wants to continue this practice. [The parties] pointed out several projects of big German companies aimed at expansion of their presence on the Russian market. Putin reaffirmed our interest for such cooperation,”

Peskov told reporters. He stated that “Last year we registered a significant trade growth of 23%. The trend remains in place this year.”

Putin and Merkel discussed big projects, including Nord Stream 2, and pointed out “the commercial nature and competitive advantage of this project. Both agreed that it was not right to somehow politicize this project,” Peskov said. He told media that Putin and Merkel had discussed possible U.S. sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project, saying,

“There is a general understanding that the project is commercially profitable and competitive and that is why it is necessary to take measures to protect it from possible attacks of third parties and to complete the project.”

Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian energy giant Gazprom and France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, U.K.-Denmark’s Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall. The pipeline will run under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast to a hub in Germany, and have an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. It is expected to be in operation by the end of 2019, Peskov said.

Both leaders discussed the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. RT reported yesterday that at the press conference, Putin stressed Nord Stream 2 is “a purely economic project” and does not mean the transit of gas through Ukraine will stop.

On Syria, Sputnik quoted Peskov that

“[The parties] have thoroughly discussed the Syrian issue. Putin pointed out the intensifying flow of refugees returning home, and called on the European countries to support the process to make it irreversible.”

Peskov said Putin and Merkel had also discussed the possible creation of the Russia-Germany-France-Turkey format of talks on Syria, stating,

“Such format has been discussed. They decided that the dialogue in such a format would be launched at the level of experts and aides in order to upgrade the level of talks in the future.”

Further on economics, Peskov said,

“The parties expressed mutual concern over unpredictable decisions, especially in the sphere of tariffs, taken by some states, which may finally have negative consequences for the whole system of trade and economic ties.”

Ahead of the Putin-Merkel meeting, Andrea Nahles, who heads Germany’s Social Democratic Party, which shares the government with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, warned that Germany won’t abandon Nord Stream 2, despite U.S. protests. She said Germany should have an “intensive dialogue” with Russia, emphasizing on Funke radio that there are many conflicts internationally where Russia’s participation is required to find solutions.