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Merkel & Putin Check Out VW

Automaker plays a new role in international relations as two of the most influential world leaders get together over Volkswagen's operations in Russia.

Russia and Germany have a troubled history. In the last several decades alone, Germany invaded Russia during WW2, then Russia effectively occupied half of Germany and its capital for the entire length of the Cold War. These days German leaders have been highly critical of the Russian regime and its human rights record, so any chance for the heads of both states to get together is a good thing. So what’s brought them together this time around? Why, cars, of course!

While in Hannover for an industrial trade show, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin got together at the Volkswagen pavilion. There they learned about Volkswagen’s activities in Russia and its new hyper-economical new XL1. Volkswagen is in the process of investing a billion dollars in Russia, including a new factory in Kaluga, and is sponsoring the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. Even with these two world leaders sharing the same stage, we can't help but wonder if VW chairman Martin Winterkorn wasn't still the most powerful one in the room.

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