Tuesday 1/19/21
CORONAVIRUS

Putin and Merkel discuss possible joint vaccine production

The Russian leader had already expressed his hopes for closer bilateral ties with Berlin in 2021.

File photo of Angela Merkel (L) and Vladimir Putin, during a meeting in Germany at the Federal Chancellery in 2020. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa.
File photo of Angela Merkel (L) and Vladimir Putin, during a meeting in Germany at the Federal Chancellery in 2020. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed closer cooperation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from the Kremlin released on Tuesday.

The two leaders are said to have discussed possible ways of jointly producing vaccines.

The Russian and German health ministries are to continue talks on the subject together with specialists, the statement said without giving further details.

A government spokesman in Berlin confirmed that the two sides had discussed ways to combat the pandemic.

Russia approved the use of its Sputnik V vaccine in mid-August. A second vaccine has since been added to the list and vaccinations have been taking place since early December.

Germany began its vaccination drive on December 27, together with other EU member states, after the European Medicines Agency gave the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

During their phone call, Merkel and Putin also wished each other a happy new year.

Navalny, Ukraine

The Russian leader had already expressed his hopes for closer bilateral ties with Berlin in 2021 in a New Year's letter addressed to Merkel and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Merkel and Putin also discussed the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Relations between Moscow and Berlin were put under immense strain in recent years due to the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and a 2015 hacking attack on the German parliament, in which the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

The European Union nonetheless sanctioned Russia for the crime, prompting Moscow to issue its own sanctions, predominantly targeting German government officials.

Despite the tensions, economic cooperation between the two countries continues in the form of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has angered the United States amid concerns that it will increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia.

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