GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel tonight walked away from much-vaunted talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin – because he was running late.
Reports later on this evening, however, suggest that they were able to set aside the earlier cancellation, and did in fact meet in Milan, although several hours later than agreed.
The two leaders had been scheduled to meet at 6pm on the sidelines of the annual Asia-European meeting in Milan this evening.
Putin had been attending a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Societ liberation of Belgrade from Nazi occupation.
But he left the Serbian capital late, according to Bloomberg News and in response, the German chancellor’s office cancelled the meeting
Tonight’s diplomatic debacle won’t do anything to ease tensions between the two leaders, which were already building.
Earlier on today, Merkel criticised Putin for not doing enough to uphold the ceasefire between both sides of the eastern Ukrainian conflict, which was signed last month.
She said she expected to discuss the cease-fire deal, which has reduced hostilities but failed to stop all fighting.
It is above all Russia’s task to say clearly that the Minsk plan is really respected.
Unfortunately, there are still very, very big shortcomings. But it is important to seek dialogue here.
The West has imposed a series of economic sanctions against Russia since its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March and its support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
Contains reporting by the Associated Press.