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Specter of Sanctions Hangs Over Russia as Merkel Hosts Putin

  • Don’t expect miracles from Putin trip to Berlin, Merkel says
  • Russia temporarily suspends bombing of Aleppo ahead of talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP via Getty Images
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President Vladimir Putin’s hastily-announced visit to Berlin comes on the heels of a temporary moratorium on Russia’s bombing of Aleppo as its military actions in Syria invite more punitive action from the West.

Announced after days of diplomatic jockeying, Putin’s visit will be his first to the German capital since Russia annexed Crimea and fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces began in 2014. It came on the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Western leader he has the most affinity with. Russian relations with Europe and the U.S. have been at their lowest since the collapse of the Berlin Wall.