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2000 Putin Schroeder Gazprom Russia Germany creditor Investment Clinton Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 United Nations



Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg, Florida
17 Jun 2000, Sat \u2022 Page 13



Putin gets chummy with leader of Germany

Compiled from Times wires

BERLIN "What do you want us to say," President Vladimir Putin of
Russia asked Friday after his fourth meeting in three days with Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, "that we're in love?"



He was joking, of course. But there was no mistake that the
summit meeting that ended Friday produced a vigorous rapprochement between
Russia and Germany. Putin seemed entirely serious when he added,
"Germany is Russia's leading partner in Europe and the world."



The meeting led to agreements on German investments in
Russia worth $1.7-billion, cautious German backing for a Russian plan to
involve itself in the defense of Europe against missile attack
, and the establishment
of an apparently excellent rapport between Putin and Schroeder.



The sudden
closeness of Berlin and Moscow is certain to cause some concern
among
Germany's European partners, which are always worried that Europe's central
power may again seek its fortunes to the east.



Michael Steiner, the chief diplomatic adviser to
Schroeder, insisted several times Friday that Germany was acting for Europe in
seeking a "strategic partnership" with Putin's Russia.



But in many respects, Germany appeared closer to Russia
than to the United States
on the question of missile defense. Schroeder
said Friday that a proposal by Putin to place Russia at the heart of a European
missile defense system from the Atlantic to the Urals "deserves thorough
consideration and should be discussed both in the NATO-Russia Council and
through bilateral relations."



The chancellor has been much cooler on the U.S. proposal for
a national missile defense system. He has warned that it must not be allowed to
lead to a new arms race or undo existing agreements, including the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 that President Clinton wants
Russia to agree to amend.



Russia is proposing the use of "theater"
anti-missile systems allowed under the 1972 treaty to shoot down short and
medium-range missiles that threaten Europe. The United States is deeply skeptical
of both the feasibility and the desirability of the idea.



Schroeder showed little such skepticism. "We
agree on the necessity of political measures with regard to arms control in
order to preserve the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,\u201c he said.



In practice, German officials privately hope that Clinton
will avert a decision on the national missile defense system in the remaining
months of the presidency
. They say such a decision would only put Putin
in a corner
.



Putin, who speaks good German as a result of his five
years in East Germany as a KGB spy, said Friday that a "united
Europe" should join a body set up by Russia and the United States to
monitor missile launches around the world
and so provide an early-warning
system.



Much time in the talks was devoted to economic issues.
Germany is Russia's largest creditor and Putin is looking to German
companies to invest heavily in his country and to provide access to industrial
technology.
He spent much of his time here trying to convince executives
that Russia could prove a reliable marketplace governed by the rule of law.



The mission was partially successful. Wintershall, a
German gas company, agreed to invest about $l-billion in a joint development of
an offshore oil field in the arctic north with Russia's state-controlled gas
company, Gazprom
.



Other investments worth over $700-million were signed by
three other German companies with Gazprom
, and Schroeder said about
$500-million in new export credits should soon be available.



But little progress was made on a debt-restructuring deal.
Russia has been looking for some forgiveness of its large debt, but Germany has
made clear that this is impossible.



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