Russia’s President Putin meets Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac today in Kaliningrad, as part of that city’s 750th birthday celebrations. There will much more on the three men’s plates than festive offerings, however, as they have a full agenda of pressing issues to discuss. Putin was keen to stress that relations between Moscow and its European neighbours were central to the meeting. “I am happy to welcome the French president and German chancellor here. I am happy it will give us an opportunity to have an exchange of views on political problems, and discuss the next steps in the construction of our mutual relations Franco-Russian, Russo-German, and Russo-European. For us it is very important to understand what is going on in Europe at the moment, and what future Russo-European relations will be like with the constitution”.Putin may be satisfied at Europe’s current political disarray, as it may deflect the EU’s criticisms of his regime, but the Kaliningrad party is short of a few expected guests. Neighbours Poland and Lithuania have notably not been invited after they refused to attend Moscow’s recent 60th commemoration of the end of World War II. This weekend’s tit-for-tat snub symbolises Russia’s prickly relations with some of its former Soviet allies. Those relations will also be discussed, along with the nuclear talks with Iran, the situation in North Korea, and the Middle East.