Angela Merkel

Merkel Visits Putin

Tense meeting at the Kremlin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a tense meeting in the Kremlin Friday, as both clearly struggled to reconcile the rising political acrimony between their countries with their long-standing and increasingly important economic partnership.

The Russia-Germany summit is an annual affair, and it usually goes well, in part because of strong and long-standing economic relations, and in part because Mr. Putin – a German-speaking former KGB spy in East Germany – has gone out of his way to cultivate good relations with German leaders. But rising criticism in Germany of Putin's alleged "crackdown" on his domestic opposition has been met lately with a growing Russian unwillingness to accept "mentoring" from European leaders whose own home front is racked with economic and political disorder these days.