• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Merkel tops Putin hot-line call queue

The Local · 21 Aug 2014, 15:09

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.
Story continues below…
 
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 news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Brexit vote
German stock market sees biggest drop since 2008 crash
Photo: DPA

News that British voters had opted to leave the EU led to panic in Germany's largest stock index.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,910
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd