• Germany edition
 
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
Updated: 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
Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hessen. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

JobTalk Germany
When should interns demand to get paid?

When should interns demand to get paid?

After a woman was denied pay for working at a supermarket as an 'intern' for eight months with no wages, The Local looks at the warning signs for abusive internships. READ  

Single parents, common law families on rise
Photo: DPA

Single parents, common law families on rise

The German family structure is changing, with nearly a third of every family no longer living in the "classic model" and big differences in what family looks like in the former East and West, statistics agency Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Four arrested in raids against Isis
Photo: DPA

Four arrested in raids against Isis

Police raided 15 homes across Germany over the weekend and arrested four suspected supporters of the Islamic State (Isis). They are alleged to have smuggled a teenager and thousands of winter military clothes to the terrorist group's frontlines. READ  

Munich Refugee Crisis
'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'
Hassan, pictured outside the Bayernkaserne with two of his children, arrived in Munich from Syria. Photo: Mariane Schroeder

'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'

Around 300 refugees are arriving in Munich each day, but accommodation centres are full. With authorities struggling for answers, The Local meets those at the sharp end of the crisis. READ  

Train Strike
Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return
Photo: DPA

Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return

UPDATE: Deutsche Bahn trains are chugging along again after a 50-hour train strike cost the service "tens of millions" and brought travel headaches across the country, leaving millions of passengers struggling for transportation over the weekend as well as at least one mass brawl in its tracks. READ  

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt plans to limit his road toll for foreigners initially to motorways only, Spiegel reported on Sunday. READ  

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open
The damaged bank branch. Photo: DPA

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open

Criminals robbed a Berliner Sparkasse bank branch early on Sunday morning - using a bomb. READ  

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry
French Economy and Finance Ministers Emmanuel Macron (l) and Michel Sapin. Photo: DPA

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry

French and German ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss ways of boosting growth in Europe's two biggest economies, as Paris called on Berlin to step up investment. READ  

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours
Grounded. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours

UPDATE: Pilots' union Cockpit has called a new 35-hour walkout at Lufthansa starting Monday, hours after a weekend-long rail strike finished. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
How to get hired at a Berlin startup
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,443
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd