On August 20, Ru-ssian President Vl-adimir Putin rec-eived German Chan-cellor Angela Merkel in the Kremlin on her farewell visit to Moscow before her farewell visit to Kiev. Kommersant’s special co-rrespondent Andrei Ko-lesnikov believes that M-adame Chancellor beha-ved more openly, and th-erefore, defiantly than u-sual: she had nothing to lose.
The first thing that Angela Merkel did in Moscow was to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It can be seen that this has a special meaning for her, and the fact that she pays attention to it all the time, the language will not turn to call it a formality. The Chancellor could not have come to Red Square for the May 9 parades when her other Western colleagues did not come, but she was. And now, barely meeting with Vladimir Putin, receiving a traditional bouquet from him, and then sitting down and standing up again at the sight of Sergei Lavrov, she first of all said:
- 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and on this occasion, on the occasion of this anniversary (which, strictly speaking, was still two months ago . – AK ), I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It turned out that Angela Merkel has a mobile phone. The notification of the receipt of the text message sounded from the pocket of her trousers just at the moment when Vladimir Putin was saying:
- We are constantly in telephone contact.
But, apparently, Mrs. Merkel is in the same contact not only with him.
At the end of his opening remarks, listing the topics that he would like to discuss with Ms Merkel, Vladimir Putin intriguingly added:
- We have many questions that require discussion in a personal format.
Was that what everyone was thinking? Was it, for example, about the future of Frau Merkel? Of course not, just such a figure of speech.
“So I am sure,” concluded the Russian president, “that this will not only be a farewell visit connected with your decision not to be elected further as Federal Chancellor (but also a farewell visit . – AK ).
I really wanted to ask Ms Merkel if she is offended that she is leaving earlier than Vladimir Putin. That would be a pertinent question. But I was aware of the fact that the press conference from the usual in such cases Malachite drawing room of the Grand Kremlin Palace was transferred to the Alexander Hall, where it is very problematic to shout to the victim if she does not want to hear you. Moreover, there were many journalists here, especially German ones. From Germany itself, however, according to Kommersant’s information, only a personal cameraman and a press photographer flew in, while Angela Merkel’s traditional journalistic pool remained in Berlin. In Moscow, the Germans decided to do with the forces of companies accredited in the Russian capital (although they were offered any options, all, however, related to PCR tests: there were three of them), and this turned out to be large forces.
The Alexander Hall was dazzlingly shining with the new varnish of the still old parquet floor: it seemed that you were stepping into the water, so everything here was flooded with this varnish. From the Alexander Hall, one door leads to Andreevsky, overlooking the royal throne, so that the perspective that opened up to journalistic views looked meaningful.
Here is one of the soldiers who were supposed to open the doors for Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, opened the sash (and it is six meters high) and looked with curiosity inside the Andreevsky Hall, as if looking for something there, in the depths. No, there was still only a throne standing there.
When the doors finally opened completely, it turned out that Vladimir Putin was disposed, apparently, to the extreme magnanimity in relation to the interlocutor, with whom he had already spent more than four hours by that time.
- As you know, – he said, – the special character of this visit of Mrs. Merkel is given by the fact that after the parliamentary elections in the federal republic in September she is going to leave the post of Federal Chancellor. But I want to say right away: we will always be glad to see Mrs. Merkel in Russia as a welcome guest!
And no one thought that Angela Merkel would suddenly take and at the last moment hesitate to leave the post? Well, for example, will it be required by the interests of her party, which began to lose in the election race? Or what else will become?
No, of course, it cannot be. And if so?
Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, thanked Angela Merkel for everything. And hinted at something:
- We also have large projects known to everyone (of course, Nord Stream-2. – A. K. ), they are being implemented, and we very much hope that these are not the last projects.
Was this the announcement of Nord Stream 3?
For the first time, a Russian president spoke about the new situation in Afghanistan:
- Due to the rapid development of events in Afghanistan, we have given this topic one of the priority values. The Taliban movement (banned in the Russian Federation as a terrorist movement – Kommersant ) now controls practically the entire territory of the country, including the capital. These are realities, and it is precisely from these realities that one must proceed without, of course, allowing the collapse of the Afghan state.
Vladimir Putin now de facto recognized the Taliban government.
- It is necessary to stop the irresponsible policy of imposing someone’s outside values ??from the outside, the desire to build democracies in other countries according to other people’s patterns, without taking into account either historical, national or religious characteristics, completely ignoring the traditions by which other peoples live, he added.
The US leadership, however, is no stranger to hearing all this silently in recent days. “We know Afghanistan, we know well,” Vladimir Putin admitted risky. Any such socio-political experiments have never been successful and lead only to the destruction of states, the degradation of their political and social systems, – he added, and this was about the Soviet Union.
The Russian president also said a few words about what will be discussed for a couple of days at the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Dushanbe in mid-September:
- And one more point: in our opinion, it is especially important now to prevent the penetration of terrorists of all stripes into the territory of states adjacent to Afghanistan, including under the guise of refugees.
Anxiety about the situation in Ukraine seemed heightened this time:
- In Ukraine, a number of laws and bylaws were adopted, which in their essence contradict the Minsk agreements. One gets the impression that the leadership of this country has decided, in principle, to abandon the peaceful resolution of the situation. In this regard, we once again ask Madame Federal Chancellor, including taking into account the upcoming visit to Kiev, to influence the Ukrainian side in terms of fulfilling all previously assumed obligations.
The President of Russia spoke about this with such frankness, as if he was trying not only to influence the implementation of the Minsk agreements, but finally to make the Federal Chancellor, if anything, an accomplice in their non-implementation.
The speech of Angela Merkel herself, who seemed to have nothing to lose except the chains of Alexei Navalny, did not look like a reciprocal courtesy to Vladimir Putin, who in almost every paragraph emphasized the merits of the Federal Chancellor in the 16-year service to the people of Germany and to all this humanity. …
“Of course,” she said almost immediately, “we also discussed the very depressing situation around Alexei Navalny. From our point of view, his sentence and imprisonment in a correctional colony occurred on the basis of a court decision, which the ECHR called unobvious and disproportionate. This is unacceptable for us. I once again demanded the release of Alexei Navalny from the Russian President and stressed that we will continue to monitor this case.
The chancellor of Germany, perhaps, has not expressed herself so harshly in the presence of the Russian President. Either she knows something else, or she reckons with the fact that it was Germany that received Mr. Navalny and that, therefore, her country has a special interest in the story with him.
“I also said,” she continued, “that we are disappointed that three German non-profit organizations are included in the list of undesirable organizations that have done a lot of work within the framework of the Petersburg Dialogue for cooperation between civil societies.
I would like to know if it is possible to continue the work of the Petersburg Dialogue by excluding these organizations from the list. From my point of view, this would be a very important sign.
According to Kommersant’s information, Angela Merkel can be accommodated in this case, however partially (that is, in two cases out of three).
The outgoing nature of the Chancellor, apparently, was in awe of the promises made in connection with Nord Stream 2. After all, she (and not even Mr. Putin) won the confrontation with the United States, and now she refused to revel in it, but, on the contrary, made it clear that she was above this:
- We talked about the document concluded between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and the President (of Russia – A.K. ) and I discussed that Georg Graf Waldersee would be a very experienced negotiator regarding gas transit through Ukraine after 2024. This is his task. And we bear a certain responsibility here, despite all the economic aspects that need to be taken into account.
It is necessary to take into account the aspect that it is absolutely unprofitable for Europe and especially for Germany to deal with transit through Ukraine when there is Nord Stream-2.
It turned out that Angela Merkel is in need of Vladimir Putin and in connection with Afghanistan:
- I asked the Russian side in negotiations with the Taliban to point out the issues of humanitarian assistance from the UN in Afghanistan in order to provide such humanitarian assistance. Those people who helped us – the Bundeswehr, the federal police – they should be able to leave Afghanistan!
The Minsk agreements, which in Europe are called the “Normandy format”, turned out to be dear to the chancellor:
- The Normandy Format is the only political format that we have available for discussing controversial topics. At the moment, there is a certain stagnation. Unfortunately, Ukrainian servicemen are dying along the line of demarcation, and I was very much in favor of resuming, giving more life to this format. The last meeting took place in December 2019 in Paris, and the goals that we set for ourselves in Paris – on the part of the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Ukraine on the other hand – have been realized.
She meant a truce. And the deputy head of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak, who was delayed when all the other negotiators had already left the Alexander Hall, was most upset by the fact that there was actually no truce.
At the end of her statement, Angela Merkel spoke much more sharply than usual about the situation with Crimea:
- Our position is that the annexation of Crimea is a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and we will defend this position, and I will advocate for ensuring the territorial integrity of Ukraine!
As a member of the Bundestag (unless, as said, otherwise happens), of course.
Finally, there was still a little lyrics in it:
- I wanted to say that in 16 years, it seems, I have already visited Russia 16 times … That is, I was regularly looking for contacts … And I always tried to find compromises. And I think that in the international context there is no alternative to dialogue, exchange of arguments. And it’s always a lot of work. Of course, everything could have been easier, but the dialogue needs to be continued.
She wasn’t rude now, but she was no doubt still harsher than usual. She really has nothing to lose now, and let others look for compromises.
Vladimir Putin, after all, also once promised to resign, lead the opposition and criticize everyone.
We have been waiting since then.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung immediately asked the question that tormented him the most:
- You, President Putin, a question: what is needed to free Alexei Navalny, and what is needed to end the persecution of those who support Alexei Navalny? Navalny’s theme . – A.K. ) Today is the anniversary of the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny.
Here Mr. Putin smiled badly, meaning, apparently: no, well, again about the person involved! Oh well…
“He published,” the German correspondent continued, “an article in which he demands to fight corruption, since it is the root of all evil. What do you think of this proposal, Mr Putin? For example, he demands to impose sanctions against the oligarchs from your environment.
Here comes another, of course, the smile of the President of Russia.
- As for the defendant you mentioned, he was convicted not for his political activities, but for a criminal offense against foreign partners.
As for political activity, no one should hide behind political activity to carry out business projects, especially in violation of the law. This is the first part of my answer, ”nodded the Russian president, who, presumably, was preparing for both the first and the second part.
The second, however, was devoted to the history of the Occupy Wall Street movements in the United States and the “yellow vests” in France, told not for the first or the last time:
- So that these people should be especially supported when promoting them, say, to representative bodies of power, including the parliament? elections in the United States with political demands, over a hundred criminal cases were brought against them …
Here Mr. Putin said, possibly, the main thing at this press conference:
- We will do everything to ensure that the situation in Russia is stable and predictable (that is, this is not all. – A. K. ). Russia exhausted its limit on revolutions back in the 20th century. We do not want revolutions any more, we want the evolutionary development of our society and state. I hope that it will be so.
This will, apparently, now be quoted more than anything else in the election ads of United Russia.
Angela Merkel also spoke about corruption and explained why Mr. Navalny was calling for sanctions against businessmen from, as they say, Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, and the Russian president unexpectedly added when she fell silent (he apparently did not want to give her even a minimum of initiative in this case – or just remembered another argument):
- In general, people who themselves perfectly observe the law should fight corruption. This is one of the most important conditions for this fight to be effective.
And again the German journalist brought them back to the Minsk agreements.
“Progress is not the way I would like to see it,” Angela Merkel admitted. “I think this format should not be allowed to come to a standstill.
And Vladimir Putin devoted some of the details of the talks:
- Today I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been introduced in Ukraine by the government of Ukraine, and if this draft law is adopted … please read, this is not a secret document … this will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from the Minsk process unilaterally.
Because there is not something that contradicts the Minsk agreements. Everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements.
I then asked Dmitry Kozak what kind of document it was.
- The draft law on the state policy of the transition period, – explained Mr. Kozak.
According to him, Donbass does not have any rights at all under this law, and its adoption “in the form in which it is spelled out means war.”
“People are fighting for power, for keeping power and inventing moves like in the outer perimeter,” he shrugged. “And they followed the path of emergency …
Meanwhile, at the press conference, it was said about the long-suffering gas transit through Ukraine:
- In the course of construction, which is being completed … How much is left? .. 44 or 45, in my opinion, kilometers …
Then Alexey Miller said something from the spot.
- How much, Alexey? The president asked the head of Gazprom. – 15?
Vladimir Putin’s initial figure did not seem to include the results of the night and morning shifts.
“15 kilometers left by sea,” the Russian president summed up with satisfaction. “That’s it!
And the truth is everything. “But Madame Federal Chancellor has always raised the issue of continuing transit through the territory of Ukraine,” Vladimir Putin continued to pay tribute to his colleague at all costs.
True, he criticized this transit: the new pipeline is both shorter and more environmentally friendly, and promised that there would be no politics in resolving this issue.
Frau Merkel nodded with satisfaction, although this meant precisely that a new transit agreement with Ukraine after 2024 was not needed, at least to the extent that it was before.
But Angela Merkel wanted everything she negotiated (including the Minsk agreements, transit) to live after her.
That’s why I came.
It doesn’t work that way.
But it was a good try.