Germany’s Merkel, France’s Macron & Russia’s Putin use video call to discuss potential cooperation over Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine

With the EU suffering from an acute Covid-19 vaccine shortage, the leaders of France and Germany discussed the potential import of the Moscow-made Sputnik V in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday night.

According to a statement published by the Kremlin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the Russian leader spoke about the “registration of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in the European Union, as well as possible supply and co-production of this drug in EU countries.”

The EU is yet to approve Sputnik V, with regulator the European Medicines Agency (EMA) only starting a review of the vaccine in early March. Despite it not being registered in the bloc, two EU countries, Hungary and Slovakia, have already unilaterally imported and started using the vaccine. On Tuesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz revealed that Vienna is also planning to buy a large shipment of doses.

Also on Putting on a brave face? Amid row on vaccine deliveries & shortages, EU commissioner says bloc has ‘no need’ of Russia’s Sputnik V

Although politicians from all around the EU are asking the bloc to approve the jab, some of its most senior figures have expressed concern over whether the Russian formula is needed at all. Last week, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the 27-nation group has “absolutely no need” for the vaccine.

Sputnik V became the world’s first registered Covid-19 vaccine in August last year. Produced by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, studies published in the British medical journal The Lancet revealed that it has an efficacy of 91.6%.

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Since Zelensky became Ukrainian president, discussions on peace in war-torn Donbass haven’t advanced ‘one iota,’ laments Kremlin Since Zelensky became Ukrainian president, discussions on peace in war-torn Donbass haven’t advanced ‘one iota,’ laments Kremlin

As well as discussing the pandemic, the three leaders also spoke about the war in Donbass, with all sides agreeing that “there is no alternative to the 2015 Minsk Package of measures as a basis for resolving the internal conflict in the country.”

This comes after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented the failures of the peace deal, noting no progress has been made since the election of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Putin, Macron and Merkel also spoke about the situation with opposition figure Alexey Navalny, currently in prison after breaking the terms of his parole. According to the Élysée Palace, the French and German leaders drew Putin’s attention to the need for Navalny’s rights to be respected and for his health to be preserved. Last week, the activist’s lawyers claimed that he was in an “extremely unfavorable” state, with his left leg “incapacitated.”

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