The Russian President has met the German Chancellor to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe.
Angela Merkel joined Vladimir Putin in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a day after Russia staged its biggest ever military parade to celebrate its victory over Nazi Germany in what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.
Saturday’s ceremony was boycotted by nearly all EU leaders over Moscow’s stance on Ukraine, the subject of tense talks on Sunday.
“Because of the criminal annexation of Crimea which violated international law and the military clashes in eastern Ukraine, our mutual cooperation has suffered a serious setback – serious, because we see it as a violation of the principles of the common European peace,” Merkel told a news conference.
“The lesson of history is that we have to try everything to solve conflicts – as difficult as they might seem – peacefully and in dialogue and that means diplomatically,” she added.
Merkel also called on Putin to use his influence with pro-Russian separatists, pressure he suggested was already being felt.
“There’s every reason, despite some difficulties, to believe that the Minsk peace process is moving forward. Since April 12, although there have been problems, the situation in the south-east of Ukraine has calmed down,” said Putin.
Despite their differences over sanctions and which side is breaking the ceasefire deal, both leaders agreed that a stable solution to the conflict can only be reached through peaceful efforts.