The rift between Russia and Europe may be closing.
Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned up President Vladimir Putin on Thursday [Oct 2nd] to discuss Ukraine. Significantly, Merkel ‘engaged” Putin in a wide-ranging conversation that touched on the Islamic State and Ebola — and, hold your breath, the ASEM 10 Summit scheduled to be held in Milan, Italy, on October 16-17. [ . . . ]
To be sure, Putin is attending this important meeting in MIlan that promises to bring him face to face with the European leaders. In sum, the ice will break in the standoff between Russia and the European Union. Simply put, European leaders are directly engaging Putin. Now, the countdown may be beginning for the rollback of the EU’s sanctions against Russia.
As Mr sees it, this possible rapprochement is mostly due to the longstanding relationship between Germany and Russia. There’s been a change of the guard at NATO too, however, which may bring its own positive impetus.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has got a new secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, former Norwegian prime minister, replacing Fogh Anders Rasmussen, whom Moscow distrusted. Putin has warmed up to the appointment of Stoltenberg with whom he apparently enjoys good personal equations [relations?].
At any ratee, in his very first press conference in the NATO Hqs in Brussels on Tuesday, Stoltenberg called for “a constructive and cooperative relationship” with Russia and for reconvening the Russia-NATO Council. Now, that wouldn’t have been possible without Obama’s consent.
It’s much too early to be confident but a somewhat more rational phase perhaps lies ahead.