Putin explains Russian stance on Kerch Strait crisis to Merkel over caviar breakfast at G20 (VIDEO)

Putin explains Russian stance on Kerch Strait crisis to Merkel over caviar breakfast at G20 (VIDEO)
The Russian president drew a diagram of the border violation committed by Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea last week for the benefit of the German chancellor, as he hosted a lavish working breakfast at the G20 in Argentina.

Vladimir Putin invited Angela Merkel to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires on Saturday morning, though it may have felt more like afternoon for both of the leaders, who had flown in from Europe the day before.

While the media was ushered out after the first few seconds, footage shows the Russian president pointing the German chancellor to her seat on the opposite side of a table laden with delicacies. In the moments they were allowed to observe, the press spotted serving dishes of black caviar and red salmon roe, brought over especially from Russia for the occasion. There were also succulent pieces of fish served in dishes adorned with Russia’s heraldic double-headed eagles.

According to Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, despite all the grand trappings the breakfast was all-business between the two long-serving politicians, who are both fluent in each other’s languages.

He said Putin wanted to give a “vivid” illustration of the incident, in which three Ukrainian navy vessels crossed into Russian territorial waters, before being detained – hence the diagram – accompanied by an “exhaustive explanation.”

In turn, Merkel reportedly wondered if she could offer diplomatic assistance in resolving the most severe crisis between Moscow and Kiev in years.

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While Putin was communicative on Russian reasoning – he similarly explained the incident to Emmanuel Macron the day before – he could not promise an imminent release of the 24 crew members of the Ukrainian vessels.

“Putin explained that this was a matter for investigators and the courts, so any decision is likely to take some time,” said Peskov, adding that within the context of the legal process an idea of diplomatic mediation from foreign officials was inapplicable.

Peskov also emphasized that the detainees were not “prisoners of war” as there is “no war between Russia and Ukraine” but “provocateurs,” who “trespassed into Russia and committed acts of hooliganism.”

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