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Ukrainian President Seeks 'Pressure' On Russia At Talks With Merkel In Berlin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) talks with French President Emmanuel Macron as he leaves the Elysee presidential palace following their meeting in Paris on June 17.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is due to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on June 18 – a day after Zelenskiy urged Kyiv’s European backers to keep “pressure” on Russia to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the agenda of Merkel’s meeting with Zelenskiy included talks on the implementation of the Minsk accords and the course of reforms in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

Seibert said the two also would discuss issues related to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is meant to carry Russian natural gas beneath the Baltic Sea to Germany but faces a threat of new U.S. sanctions.

Washington, Kyiv, and Poland argue that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would help Russia bypass infrastructure in Ukraine, allowing Moscow to use energy supplies as an economic weapon against its neighbors without disrupting its exports to Western Europe.

Russia and Germany maintain that the pipeline is strictly a commercial project.

On June 17, during a visit to Paris where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, Zelenskiy called for European Union countries not to ease up their pressure on Moscow over its seizure and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and Russia’s support for separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and the Kyiv Post