• Germany's news in English
 
Merkel tops Putin hot-line call queue
Call me maybe: The Berlin-Moscow hot-line has been busy. Photo: DPA

Merkel tops Putin hot-line call queue

Published: 21 Aug 2014 15:09 GMT+02:00

The two have enjoyed a strong and steady working relationship in recent years, in large part due to Putin's fluent German and past ties with the former East Germany (albeit while working for the KGB).
 
But since the Russian leader has sunk into international isolation with his country's annexation of Crimea and its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Chancellor beats out all others in having his ear, Die Welt newspaper reported Thursday.
 
Of the 120 calls Putin has had with world leaders since the start of the year, 33 were with Merkel, more than twice the amount of the nearest other leader eager to discuss Ukraine and other crises with him.
 
In second spot is France's François Hollande, with 15 calls.
 
The frequency of the calls reflects the urgency of the times. According to the Kremlin, only 59 calls were made last year in the same period.
 
But lest the numbers paint a picture of a leader desperate for someone to talk to, the paper notes that it's far more often a case of other leaders trying to reach Putin, rather than him calling them.
 
Calls are often not taken by the Kremlin chief, with aides citing his unavailability. It could be, of course, that he just doesn't want to talk to them. 
 
Another key distinction is whether the call is conducted one-on-one (with the exception of interpreters) with a leader, or taken as a conference call, hosted by one leader but including others too.
 
A total of 21 out of 33 calls with Merkel were in the bilateral format.
 
But nine of Hollande's 15 calls with the Russian leader were in a group format, which is interpreted more as rendering an intermediary service for the world community.
 
By contrast, Putin and US President Barack Obama held 10 bilateral calls this year. 
 
Who ya gonna call?
 
The peak of the hot-line calls came in March, when the Crimea snatch took place and first sanctions were announced against Russia, with Putin fielding 25 calls, including several from the Chancellor. 
 
Another 24 took place in July, when a missile strike that many countries have blamed on Russia downed the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 people on board.
  
As for the content of the calls and who led the conversation, information varies depending on which side tells the world about it.
 
In Merkel's last conversations with Putin, held on August 16 and 6, she focused on Germany's demand that Russia cease supplying weapons and armed personnel to separatists in eastern Ukraine, a German government spokesman said.
 
But the Kremlin said this was not a topic of either phone call. In the first, they claim that Putin rather informed Merkel about Russian humanitarian aid deliveries to the conflict zone (which critics claim were a cover for weapons supplies).
 
And during the second he squarely blamed the government in Kiev for the events in eastern Ukraine, Moscow adds.
 
Among other world leaders, Britain's David Cameron spoke six times with Putin this year.
 
This was the same amount as Ukraine's President Petro Poroschenko, and one call less than Putin held with his ex-Soviet neighbour Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,199
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd