German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin since July 20, three days after the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash. In their last conversation, the Wall Street Journal describes her sentiments to Putin as "Call me if you have progress to report in defusing the conflict." Putin has not called.
For a long time, it was considered that Angela Merkel could get through to Putin in a way that other leaders could not. Merkel pledged that Germany and Russia would have a "partnership for modernization." At the World Cup in Brazil, the two leaders even sat together. Between the time when the Ukraine/Russia conflict began this winter and July 20, Putin and Merkel had at least thirty known phone calls.
Some have speculated that Germany and Russia had been negotiating a secret "land for gas" deal that fell apart after the MH17 crash, which could have led to this silent treatment. The deal would have Germany recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, and in exchange, Russia would create stable, cheaper gas supplies to Ukraine. The alleged deal was being brokered by Merkel between Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. A German government spokesperson has shot down reports of this deal, saying "The report has no basis," and it remains unconfirmed.
Merkel has moved even further away from Putin this week, as she joined the European Union's plan to issue further sanctions against Russia. These sanctions will strike Russia's banking, exporting and energy sectors, though not natural gas, as Europe heavily relies on Russia for this resource.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.