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Merkel Balances Snub of Putin's WWII Parade With Trip to Moscow

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 10:11 AM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel snubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin's military parade marking the Allied victory in World War II and plans to join him at a tribute to fallen soldiers in Moscow instead.

Merkel declined Putin's invitation to the parade in the Russian capital on May 9 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's part in defeating Nazi Germany in 1945, her press office said Wednesday. The suggestion to jointly lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall on May 10 was Merkel's, a spokeswoman in the office said by phone.

The balancing act mirrors Merkel's policy in the Ukraine conflict, where she's combining her support for European economic sanctions on Russia with peace talks aimed at restoring regional stability and leaving the door open to partnership with Russia.

Sanctions are "a necessary response" to Russia's annexation of Crimea last year and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, Merkel said in a speech in Tokyo on Monday. "But we're also making efforts for a diplomatic solution."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier plans to meet Secretary of State John Kerry later Wednesday to urge President Barack Obama's administration to resist pressure in the U.S. to arm Ukraine's government and give the cease-fire in the country's east a chance to take hold.

Backed by Obama as Europe's key conduit to Putin, Merkel wields power as the leader of the continent's biggest economy and Russia's biggest European trading partner. She says Germany can afford to use its leverage to squeeze Russia's economy and has repeatedly won public backing from German business leaders for her stance on sanctions.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel snubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin's military parade marking the Allied victory in World War II and plans to join him at a tribute to fallen soldiers in Moscow instead.
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Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 10:11 AM
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