Seehofer visits Putin in Moscow

The Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer has visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow and called for the easing of the West's sanctions. As a politician of the CSU, which governs in Berlin together with its sister party the CDU, the sole intention of Seehofer's trip was to annoy Chancellor Merkel, commentators suspect.

Open/close all quotes
Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The Bavarian is tweaking Merkel on the nose

Officially the visit is about business ties between Bavaria and Russia, but in reality Seehofer wants to show his dissatisfaction with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza writes:

“Seehofer has flown to Moscow to tweak Merkel's nose in front of the whole world. This trip is part of the conflict between Bavaria and Berlin over the reception of refugees. When Merkel opened the borders to refugees last September, Seehofer hit the roof. That wasn't because Bavaria can't cope with the refugees, but because the ultra-conservative politician just wanted to use the opportunity to settle scores with his coalition partner. Because CDU leader Merkel has led the Christian Democrats into the political centre.”

Český rozhlas (CZ) /

Playing into the hands of Moscow's propaganda

Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer's visit to Vladimir Putin has rightly been criticised in Germany, the public radio Český rozhlas affirms:

“Although Seehofer swears that the visit was discussed with the Germany government, it still carries a strong political message. After all, it brings together two of the most virulent opponents of Angela Merkel's refugee policy and the anti-Russian sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea of which Merkel was the main proponent in the EU. Seehofer criticised these sanctions from the start arguing that Bavarian companies would lose over half of their orders from the lucrative Russian market. Seehofer is under fire not just from the left for visiting Russia, but also from the ranks of the Christian Democrats. The main accusation is that the Russian leadership will exploit his visit for propaganda purposes just as it did with the story of a Russian-German girl who was purportedly raped in Germany.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Putin delighted over bickering German government

The strife within the German government suits Putin's interests, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk comments:

“Now Seehofer will be over there giving a speech in a dacha this evening. And this is not a one-off. One recalls Seehofer's meeting with Hungarian hardliner Viktor Orbán at Banz Abbey. That, too, was a signal to Berlin, one that didn't shine as brightly as Seehofer's visit to Putin, but which certainly made an impact. But we also recall that Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel recently danced attendance in Moscow too. That makes two visitors to Moscow with one thing in common: the desire to oust Merkel. Vladimir Putin can sit back contentedly and watch these goings-on. He's happy to help out when two people are at odds. The recession is biting at his heels and it suits him perfectly when his people hear in the news that Germany simply can't get along without him.”