Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s request to send German and French observers to the Kerch Strait, stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Interfax-Ukraine reports.
"Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the President to allow German specialists to come to the region of the Kerch Strait over a month ago and to see how the navigation is done, taking into account that safety regulations should be observed... and President Putin agreed immediately,” Lavrov said at a press-conference after talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
He also added that Merkel asked for French specialists to join the German ones and that Putin agreed to this as well. Lavrov explained that Maas made a proposal "that ‘packs up’ this simple trip into a certain document that can be agreed with Ukraine.”
"We said honestly that if our colleagues are interested in what the President promised German Chancellor Merkel, it can be done today, tomorrow or at any time. If the idea is to put this all in some political procedure in which Ukraine will make some decisions, we risk finding ourselves in the same situation as the Normandy Format and Steinmeier Formula,” the Russian Minister said.
Maas, in turn, said afterwards that it was only during the talks with Lavrov on Friday that he proposed that Germany and France address the issues related to ensuring free passage through the Kerch Strait. He pointed out that in this respect, Moscow could not have had this information in advance.
"Today we have spoken to Germany and France as partners from the "Normandy" Format that could address this issue,” Maas said.