Sochi (Russia) – At a time when Moscow and the Europeans are working to save the Iranian nuclear deal, Vladimir Putin receives German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday in the Russian seaside resort of Sochi for their first tête-à-tête for a year .
This meeting should also allow the master of the Kremlin, which has emerged in recent years as a major player in the Middle East, press for the revival of the political process in Syria. Before receiving the German Chancellor, and next week French President Emmanuel Macron, he hosted Thursday in his residence Bashar al-Assad, referring to the post-conflict period with a Syrian president reinforced by the military successes allowed by the military intervention Russian: political settlement, reconstruction and return of refugees. On the Iranian issue, after the Sofia summit during which the Europeans have displayed a united front, the meeting scheduled for the afternoon between Putin and Merkel on the shores of the Black Sea promises to be dominated by the decision US President Donald Trump to slam the door of the agreement on the nuclear program. This dossier is a rare subject of rapprochement between the Europeans and Moscow, whose relations have been rendered calamitous by years of disagreements over the Syrian conflict, the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine. These tensions have only worsened in recent months since the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England, at the origin of a historic wave of expulsions of diplomats. As part of the agreement signed in 2015, Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear program by pledging never to seek the atomic bomb in exchange for the lifting of some of the international sanctions. The Europeans now want to avoid at all costs that Tehran abandons the agreement and relaunch its program to acquire a nuclear weapon. They also want to protect their investments in Iran, threatened by the reinstatement of economic sanctions by Washington. ” Everyone in the EU shares the view that the agreement is not perfect, but that we should remain in this agreement and continue negotiations with Iran on other topics, such as ballistic missiles “, pleaded Thursday Ms Merkel. Tehran’s ally, especially alongside the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Russia has multiplied in recent days diplomatic contacts to try to maintain the agreement described by Moscow of ” crucial for regional stability, as for the stability of the whole world “. – ‘Particular importance’ – The last bilateral meeting between Putin and Merkel, also in Sochi, dates back to May 2017. ” Any meeting with the leader of an EU leading country is of particular importance (…). And they talk for the first time since the re-election of Putin and Merkel. Its very important Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday. The two leaders must also mention the situation in Ukraine where the conflict between the four-year pro-Western government and pro-Russian rebels is experiencing renewed tension in recent days. At least four people, including one teenager, were killed and thirteen wounded in the eastern Prussian separatist zone of Ukraine in the last 24 hours, according to Ukrainian and separatist authorities. Berlin and Moscow are with Paris guaranteeing Minsk peace agreements signed in 2015, which aim to put an end to this deadly conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people. But these agreements are at a standstill and the fighting is almost daily. The Chancellor and the Russian President will try, according to Moscow, to organize ” after a significant break “a four-way meeting with the French President and the Ukrainian head of state Petro Poroshenko, to advance on a possible UN peacekeeping mission.The last quadripartite summit in October 2016 was inconclusive. Merkel and Putin will also discuss the construction of a second Nord Stream submarine gas pipeline connecting the two countries via the Baltic Sea, a project opposed by several EU countries and recently denounced by Washington. . ” The situation is very difficult given the latest statements from Washington that this project is not in line with the interests of European countries “, said Peskov, assuring that this project will be discussed” active “.