High-level talks on eastern Ukraine: How did sanctioned Putin's aide come to Berlin talks?

12:17 Oct. 20, 2016

How did sanctioned Putin's aide come to Berlin talks?

Vladimir Putin's aide takes part in the Normandy Four talks on eastern Ukraine, in Berlin, on Oct.19, 2016 (AP photo)

Vladislav Surkov who is banned from EU was not only allowed to arrive in Germany, but also seated at the main meeting table

As all eyes were on the high-level summit in the so-called Normandy Format taking place in Berlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed up at talks accompanied not only by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov but also by his close aide Vladislav Surkov.

Surkov had been banned from travelling to the European Union and the US as part of the sanctions imposed on Russia over the annexation of Crimea, so the question arose how the Kremlin representative came to Berlin and was seated next to the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert explained to the DPA newswire that an exception had been granted to Surkov for the occasion as it is allowed under sanctions regime in case of important international events.

In May this year Surkov travelled to Greece on a religious pilgrimage that was regarded as a violation of sanctions. It is not clear if he applied for an exception then.

Surkov is seen by many as a mastermind of Kremlin's undeclared war in Donbas and the creator of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, which Ukraine considers a terrorist organisation.

Previously he took part in the top-level talks on Ukraine with US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Surkov is unofficially called "the Kremlin's curator" of Russian campaign in eastern Ukraine.

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