Vladimir Putin signs attends wedding of Austria's pro-Moscow foreign minister

Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant breaking through the metre-thick ice of the Arctic Ocean

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday - but not before attending nuptials in Austria first. "She doesn't want to give up the chance of keeping Putin within a margin that is manageable for Germany".

President Putin arrived at the talks in the Brandenburg castle over half an hour late, after earlier appearing at the wedding of Karin Kneissl, Austria's foreign minister.

The invitation to visit Germany by Merkel, Putin's most implacable critic since he annexed Crimea in 2014, is a break from his isolation that also reaffirms the German leader's pivotal role in Europe. "While reporters were discussing his dance with the bride, Putin and Merkel had an opportunity to hold closed-door talks", Belov concluded.

"Merkel is hedging and Putin is exploiting", Josef Janning, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, told Bloomberg.

On Iran, the Russian president said he would discuss with Merkel the Iran nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

Ukranian officials are concerned Russia could stop delivering natural gas through Ukraine, which works as a transit country for Russian natural-gas export to the European Union and levies a fee on the trade, after Gazprom's transit contract expires at the end of 2019, since there would be less demand for it.

The Iran nuclear deal, which was recently ditched by the U.S., humanitarian efforts in war-ravaged Syria, and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project...

"Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project", Putin said, adding that the Ukrainian transit route should be economically viable.

The worldwide coverage of Putin's visit would bring priceless publicity, he added.

Merkel said the talks would also touch on the possibility of establishing a United Nations mission to help bring about peace in Ukraine.

In his comments, Peskov said Merkel and Putin had a "general exchange of opinions" over the situation in Ukraine and that the leaders expressed regret that implementation of the so-called Minsk accords had stalled.

The United States is against the pipeline and claims it will increase Germany's dependence on Russian Federation for energy.

The Kremlin views divisions between the US and Europe over trade and the Iranian nuclear deal as a chance for Russian Federation to mend relations with Germany by presenting itself as a more reliable partner in negotiations. "It was a private visit".

Ms Kneissl, an independent, was picked for the foreign minister job by Austria's far-right Freedom Party - a coalition partner in the current government.

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