Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit Russia on May 2, President Vladimir Putin said today, a first visit by the German leader to the country in nearly two years. "We are awaiting Mrs Merkel on May 2," Putin said while meeting with the premier of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, a conservative critic of Merkel, particularly on the issue of refugees. "Give my best wishes to the federal chancellor," Putin told Seehofer, who is also the leader of the Bavarian CSU party and has already made two visits to Moscow this year. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that Merkel and Putin would discuss the situation in Ukraine during their meeting. Merkel has been the main mediator with Putin over the crisis in Ukraine that has seen Moscow seize the Crimea peninsula and back a separatist insurgency in the east of the country. She is a key proponent of keeping sanctions on Moscow in place until a stalled peace plan to end the conflict in Europe's backyard is fulfilled. Seehofer, who advocates lifting sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, also met Putin last month, to some criticism at home that he was trying to sow dissent.
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