German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The meeting of the leaders comes as bilateral relations between the nations have taken a new hit in wake of the Syrian civil war and the Ukraine crisis.
Russia and Germany ties have worsened ever since Moscow annexed Crimea in Ukraine in 2014. Germany was against the annexation and strongly supported European Union (EU) sanctions imposed against Russia in response. Moscow also hit back at the EU with an embargo on agricultural products from the West.
Merkel is also against Russia's support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's years-long civil war, which has resulted in the death of hundreds and thousands of people.
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"There are two topics that weigh down relations... the annexation of Crimea contrary to international law and then the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists," Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert told journalists ahead of the visit.
Berlin, however, has said that the meeting will "above all" focus on the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg in July. No major breakthroughs are expected on smoothening relations between the two nations. A European Union-brokered peace plan to end the conflict with Russia has also come to a dead end.
The world leaders have met a number of times over the past two years to hold a dialogue over the crisis.They also recently met in October last year to discuss Ukraine along with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and French President François Hollande.
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Merkel and Putin had also taken part in a four-way phone conversation last month with Poroshenko and Hollande, agreeing to step up implementation of the peace deal.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, in her official visit to Russia last week, had said that cooperation between the two sides was "not frozen" but also added that progress on talks was hampered by grave disagreements on subjects between the nations, including Ukraine and Syria.
Putin, however, has decided to normalise relations between the countries, as he had called for their ties "to fully normalise" during his meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in March this year, according to AFP reports.
After its exclusion from the G8 and G7, G20 is now the only platform for Russia to meet other major international powers. Putin reportedly is expected to meet the United States President Donald Trump at the G20 summit.