Germany has announced that Chancellor Merkel and Putin are due to meet this Saturday. Talks to be held in Berlin, with Syria, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, bringing Russian gas to Germany, all on the agenda.
After 4 long years of such talks, I find it hard to generate any enthusiasm for positive outcomes coming from them. Putin appears to be now pushing his agenda of getting special status for the occupied regions in Ukraine and then wanting a sham referendum held there. The type of referendum he has in mind would mirror the one held in occupied Crimea. Cue 150% of the people suddenly want to be part of Russia and occupied regions are then instantly annexed by Russia.
However, there is an important plus point. No matter how unacceptable to Ukraine or everyone else, with Putin putting forward proposals to end the conflict, it does indicate he wants the situation resolved.
As I’ve mentioned before, every year his occupation of eastern Ukraine costs Russia billions. With Russia’s economy stagnated and growing internal dissatisfaction with Putin’s never ending presidency, that’s money he could use to spend on improving the lives of the Russian people, and not a futile foreign war. The reality is, apart from causing Ukraine problems, the whole military adventure in eastern Ukraine has proved to be a total disaster for Putin.
But keeping the faith, we hope that these new talks lead to something tangible, bla, bla, bla…