Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 06.59.10.pngGermany has a strategic interest in good relations with Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this following meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meetings focused on Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking at a press conference following the talks, Merkel said that the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal had created a difficult situation. “It’s not a perfect deal, but it’s better than no deal,” Merkel said of the Iran accord. Merkel said the EU is “currently discussing” a law that would block US sanctions on European companies wanting to invest in Iran. Putin said that European countries should help Syria rebuild if they want refugees to return to the country.

Referring to the situation in Ukraine both leaders said that the Minsk accord was the “only basis” to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine, and that work should continue in the so-called “Normandy” format — involving Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. Merkel noted a “major breach” in the ceasefire in the region overnight.  Putin said Russia would support UN international peace keepers in eastern Ukraine.

Merkel stressed Ukraine should remain a gas transit country even after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline opens, said Germany was “ready to play its role.” Putin said that Russian gas may still flow to Ukraine: “Supplies will continue if they are economically viable,” Putin said. Putin found warm words on Donald Trump, saying “I understand the US president, he protects his business interests. He wants to push his product to the European market.” According to Putin, “Donald is not just the US president; he is also a strong, good entrepreneur.”