The Limits of Germany’s Economic Outreach to Russia

Berlin and Moscow will certainly continue their economic cooperation, but sanctions will limit their actions.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Moscow on Saturday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Over more than three and a half hours they discussed the situations in Syria and Libya, the Iran nuclear deal, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project and implementation of the Minsk agreement regarding Ukraine. This was Merkel’s first visit to Moscow since 2015, an indication that both Russia and Germany needed serious dialogue. In recent months, there have been several signs that Germany is interested in improving ties with Russia. This coincides with an ongoing slowdown of the German economy. Despite existing Western sanctions, Russia remains one of Germany’s key trading partners. Any meeting between Berlin and Moscow may mark the beginning of deeper cooperation. And this possibility always garners attention, because in the past when the two countries have gone through periods of rapprochement, it didn’t last and often ended in conflict or a significant strengthening of the Russian economy. Neither outcome would please the West. The German economy is teetering on the edge of recession. Germany’s real gross domestic product fell by 0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, and rose by just 0.1 percent […]

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