Leaders of Russia, France and Germany discuss global crises

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MOSCOW – The leaders of Russia, France and Germany met by conference call on Tuesday and discussed coronavirus vaccines, the Iranian nuclear standoff and conflicts in eastern Ukraine, in Libya and Syria, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had also answered questions about jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron during their “frank and professional” video call.

The Kremlin noted in its reading that the three leaders discussed the prospects of registering Russia-designed Sputnik V vaccines in the European Union and the possibility of its shipments and joint production in EU countries.

The European Medicines Agency launched an ongoing review of Sputnik V earlier this month. Russia actively marketed Sputnik V overseas despite its slow deployment in its country, which some in the EU saw as an attempt to score geopolitical points.

While discussing the situation in eastern Ukraine, the three leaders stressed that a 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany had no alternative, the Kremlin said.

He noted that Putin stressed the need for Ukraine to honor its obligations to grant special status to rebel regions as stipulated in the 2015 agreement. Ukraine has been pushing to modify the agreement, but the Russia strongly rejected this initiative.

Fighting between Russian-backed separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine erupted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and left more than 14,000 dead.

According to Kremlin information, the three leaders expressed hope that Libya’s transitional authorities will help advance an inclusive political process in the war-torn country.

All three also reiterated their support for the Iran nuclear deal and raised the situation in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

Putin said Russia is open to normalizing relations between Russia and the European Union, which have been strained recently due to the poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny. Navalny, Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent he attributes to the Kremlin. Russian authorities have dismissed the accusation.

Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating his probation terms while recovering in Germany. He dismissed the charges as a political vendetta from the Kremlin.

Russian officials have rejected demands by the United States and the European Union to release Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters.

In Tuesday’s call, Putin responded to questions about Navalny posed by Merkel and Macron and stressed Moscow’s willingness to “reestablish normal, non-politicized interaction with the EU if it is interested in it,” said the Minister. Kremlin.

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