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Merkel arrives in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan, Ukraine and Belarus with Putin

According to Germany, Vladimir Putin can do "much more" to reach a solution to the Ukrainian conflict
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AFP/ODD ANDERSEN  -   German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Russia on Friday to discuss the bilateral and international agenda with President Vladimir Putin, with an emphasis on Afghanistan, Ukraine and Belarus.

The Kremlin announced in a statement that Putin and Merkel will assess the state of bilateral relations and discuss current issues on the regional and international agenda.

The spokesman for the German government, Steffen Seibert, said that Afghanistan, Ukraine and Belarus would be the focus of the meeting between the leaders of Russia and Germany.

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AP/LEFTERIS PITARAKIS - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a press conference

Seibert explained that, according to Merkel, Putin can do "much more" to bring about a solution in eastern Ukraine through Moscow's influence over pro-Russian separatists.

Berlin hopes that Moscow will also use its influence over Minsk on the issue of the 'migration war' with Brussels.

Merkel has recently complained that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is pressuring the EU by sending migrants to its borders with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

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PHOTO/AFP - A Ukrainian serviceman loads cartridges during clashes along the front line with Russian-backed separatists

This is Merkel's second visit to Russia in less than two years, coming weeks before the German politician is due to leave office.

During their meeting in Moscow in January 2020, the two discussed the situation in Ukraine, tensions between the US and Iran, as well as the Libyan and Syrian conflicts.

The meeting lasted more than three hours.

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PHOTO/ Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits eastern Ukraine

Today Putin and Merkel will also discuss the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea, which Ukraine opposes.

The Russian and German leaders are also expected to discuss the situation of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalni, who was poisoned with nerve gas one year ago.

After Russia, Merkel will travel to Kiev, where she will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on 22 August.