Dialogue with France and Germany

President Putin remained in regular telephonic contact with French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel during the entire furore over the Skripal poisoning and the Syrian missile strikes. As mentioned, the French were reported to have given advance warning to the Russians to enable evacuation from the areas targeted by the missiles. Official reports of their telephone conversations, both in Russia and in France, said they had agreed to cooperate more closely in moving the Syrian political process forward. The two Presidents agreed on the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with respect to Iran’s nuclear programme, a point which President Macron also emphasized during his recent visit to Washington. Most importantly, the Russia-West standoff in April does not seem to have derailed plans for President Macron’s scheduled visit to Russia in May. 
Similarly, in a number of telephone conversations with German Chancellor Merkel, the Syrian political settlement found detailed mention, as also the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders are reported to have agreed to resume regular consultations on Ukraine in the Normandy format (Germany, France, Russia & Ukraine), which had lost steam after the US appointed a Presidential envoy for Ukraine. Significantly, both President Putin and Chancellor Merkel confirmed commitment to the Nord stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany – a project steadfastly opposed by some European countries and which could attract US sanctions under the CAATSA legislation (see Review, March 2018). [Germany has so far persuaded some of the concerned Baltic littorals to agree to the project, but Denmark and Sweden are yet to accord clearance.] Chancellor Merkel also announced that she was likely to meet President Putin in the near future, since a number of issues, ranging from Ukraine to Syria “requires direct exchange of views."
In the background of an unpredictable Trump political and economic policy, major European countries appear to be making some moves to mend fences with Russia, as well as to regain their involvement in the negotiations on Ukraine, Syria and Iran.  



April 30, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Ambassador of India to Russia; Convener, National Security Advisory Board

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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