Sochi (Russia) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently on her first visit to Russia in two years.
While she has firmly supported European sanctions on Moscow over the Crimea crisis and its role in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Merkel is seen as a major negotiator in the Ukrainian file.
According to a Russian expert in German affairs, Merkel’s recent visit to Russia could contribute to a rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow.
Vladislav Belov, Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Europe Institute, told the German news agency that one should not “exaggerate expectations” on this visit, due to several contentious issues.
“Finding a common ground will require a lot of time and a mutual agreement,” he added.
Merkel’s previous visit to Moscow in May 2015 occurred in times of high tension between Russia and Western countries over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin received the German Chancellor on Tuesday in Sochi, in a meeting aimed to resume dialogue between Moscow and Berlin.
In earlier remarks, Belov said that talks during the meeting were expected to touch on the foreign policy of US President Donald Trump and the situation in eastern Ukraine.
He added: “In Sochi, Merkel will represent the European Union and the NATO, and the aim of the meeting is to find common grounds with Putin.”
Belov also noted that Merkel’s visit was an opportunity for the Russian president to clarify his foreign policy.
“He can, for example, try to explain what Russia is doing in Syria,” he said.
He noted that it would be surprising to see Putin submit specific proposals to improve the implementation of the peace plan in eastern Ukraine.
As for the Kremlin, Belov said the meeting with Merkel would be an opportunity “to discuss current developments and the possibility for bilateral relations.”
Following his meeting with the German chancellor, Putin will receive on Wednesday in Sochi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.