Merkel and Macron join forces to woo Putin – after Russia ‘fired warning shots’ at UK Navy

Russia: Jets heard flying over UK vessel in Black Sea clash

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants EU leaders to consider inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to one of their summits. The plan has been endorsed by French President Emmanuel Macron. News of the fresh attempts to woo Moscow emerged after Russia said its forces fired warning shots at a British warship.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, however, denied that any shots were fired directly at the destroyer vessel.

According to the FT, diplomats representing Berlin and Paris surprised their EU counterparts by springing the proposals for a new relationship with the Kremlin on them.

Mrs Merkel has been in close contact with her colleagues, including Mr Macron and Italian premier Mario Draghi, over the plans.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also visited Berlin for talks with the German government.

Germany believes US President Joe Biden’s recent summit with Mr Putin in Geneva has provided a new template for cooling tensions with Russia.

Mrs Merkel meets the Russian President regularly but wants to find a way for the EU to speak with one voice on relations with Moscow.

EU summits with Mr Putin were shelved in 2017, when Russia annexed Crimea.

The plans to reintroduce talks will be discussed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels this week.

Wording could be agreed as part of the summit’s conclusions, emphasising the bloc’s willingness for “a selective engagement” with Moscow.

The draft proposal adds: “In this regard, the European Council calls for a review of the existing format of dialogue with Russia, including meetings at leaders’ level.”

They were tabled on the same day that the Russian defence ministry said that its navy had fired warning shots at British warship in the Black Sea.

Moscow said that HMS Defender was warned to turn back after it travelled almost two miles into Russia’s territorial waters.

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It said the British vessel left Russian waters after a patrol ship opened fire and an SU-24 jet dropped four bombs near its path.

The Ministry of Defence moved quickly to rebuke the claims, saying the incident didn’t occur.

The HMS Defender was said to have been in Ukrainian territorial waters.

An MOD spokeswoman said: “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender.

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Russia’s Royal Navy warning shot claims discussed by Haynes

“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.

“We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity.

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”

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