That is exactly how his under the radar summit with Merkel was presented by Berlin this time
Vladimir Putin’s charm tour of Germany and Austria last weekend is a significant sign of change to come.
To the U.S. and European press Putin is only a step or two away from Hitler reincarnated (thanks chiefly to Bill Browder). It serves the purpose of maintaining the post WWII institutional order.
But, Putin is always nothing but relentlessly patient in his diplomatic efforts, even when European leaders, like Merkel, treat him and Russia poorly. She is, after all, the leading mouthpiece and political ally of The Davos Crowd that believes they run the world.
The conduct of his Foreign Ministry under Sergei Lavrov always strikes the perfect balance between bluntness and diplo-speak.
So, color me surprised when I see the official photos of his meeting with Merkel carefully framed to paint him in a positive light.
Putin in light blues and grays, Merkel in green, the fountain in the background, leaning in looking directly at each other and a simple Sunday morning chat.
If I didn’t know better I’d be expecting them to share photos of their grandkids, well, Putin’s grandkids anyway.
Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better.
And the question is why?
The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline.
But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel’s Foriegn Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar.
The U.S. just seized another $5 billion of Russian ‘oligarch’ money using Credit Suisse as its enforcement arm.
Again, the question is why?
Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times?