For the first time since the start of the Ukraine crisis, Germany’s Angela Merkel will be visiting Moscow for talks on May 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
The two leaders will hold the first bilateral visit since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.
There is no immediate prospect that Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis will be lifted.
No details on the agenda of Merkel’s visit has were given, but talks are likely to focus on Ukraine, EU sanctions, trade ties and German concerns that Russia may try to meddle in a parliamentary election in September.
Germany is also president of the G20 group of leading nations this year and Merkel will need to meet with key members ahead of an upcoming summit.
The last bilateral visit was in June 2013, when Merkel came to Russia’s second city of St Petersburg at Putin’s invitation, according to the Kremlin website and Merkel’s official site.
Merkel and Putin initially had warm relations but things soured after the German chancellor led the EU condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
She has said EU sanctions, imposed over the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, must remain in force until Russia changes its behavior.
Merkel has played a pivotal role in keeping European Union states united behind the sanctions but she has come under pressure from industrial lobbies in Germany that say businesses
have suffered as a result.