Merkel, Putin and the high-stakes game

Angela Merkel will soon meet Vladimir Putin.  Diplomats on both sides feel a bold move is now due.  A rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow could de-escalate a number of the current conflicts – and signify a long-term power shift in global politics.
Has Russia truly been the villain of the piece?
On a summer’s day in the sixties a young girl’s bike disappears near the town of Templin, located in the GDR back then.  The bike belongs to Angela Kasner – who would later change her name to Merkel.
The young Angela was cycling through the forests of northern Brandenburg with some other children collecting berries and mushrooms.  They had left their bikes at the edge of the forest.  When it was time for them to saddle up once more, three bikes were missing.  Suspicion fell on the Soviet soldiers.
But similar to today’s dispute over the use of poisonous gas in Syria and the Skripal case in the UK, there were leads, suspicions and presumptions – but no clear evidence.
Surprisingly this issue has recently resurfaced.
Vladimir Yakunin, a long-time close ally of Putin’s and erstwhile head of the secret service before becoming the president of Russian Railways, describes in a recently published book how at the start of a meeting with the chancellor he wanted to resolve her presumed trauma: “there is big department store nearby,” he said to the chancellor.  “I could have hurried over and bought bikes for everyone.”
Merkel wants to retain room for manoeuvre
Merkel spoke about the case of the stolen

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