Merkel Says Always Felt 'Significant Differences' of Opinions With Putin

© AP Photo / Jens MeyerGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for a conference on Libya at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for a conference on Libya at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.10.2021
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BERLIN (Sputnik) - Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that "significant differences" had persisted between her and Russian President Vladimir Putin since his 2001 speech in the Bundestag.
"It has always been clear to me, even when he spoke in the Bundestag in 2001, that there are significant differences between us. For the Russian President, the collapse of the Soviet Union is a tragic event, we, on the contrary, felt the joy of the end of the Cold War, the joy of German and European unity," Merkel said when asked if she considered it possible to build a relationship of trust with Putin when taking office in 2005.
The chancellor, however, noted that she could not imagine when taking office that "he would annex Crimea" and a military confrontation would break out in eastern Ukraine, "almost at the border of the European Union."
Tensions between Russia and the West have been simmering since 2014 when a conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine and Crimea rejoined with Russia. Neither Kiev nor Western countries recognised the legitimacy of the reunification, accusing Russia of meddling in Ukraine's affairs. Moscow has repeatedly denied any interference and insisted that the Crimean referendum was held in line with international law.
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