The EU’s top brass instead decided to impose just six months worth of sanctions against Mr Putin, who openly land-grabbed Crimea from Ukraine – a country desperate to join the European Union (EU).
Angela Merkel is losing her grip on power as Putin infiltrates EU
According to the latest polls, support for the coalition between her Christian Democratic Union party and the Christian Social Union party has plummeted to just 32 per cent so far in 2017.
Marine le Pen openly wants France to leave the ailing Union, and the other candidate, Francois Fillon, will completely undermine the Chancellor when it comes to Russia as he opposes any form of strict sanctions.
Mr Fillon said: “Is it intelligent, with a sanctions policy that has done absolutely nothing but ruin French farmers, to push Russia both into diplomatic mistakes and at the same time toward Asia?
“I think this policy has failed.”
Angela Merkel is losing popularity in Germany and abroad
The theme of the summit is “Responsive and Responsible Leadership” and the talk is expected to be dominated by public resentment toward the political establishment and globalisation.
It also coincides with Donald Trump’s inauguration as American President and the right-wing critic of Merkel is likely to be a frequent topic of conversation.
Jochen Bittner, the political editor for the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, said: “Germany is holding general elections next autumn, and with politicians sympathetic to Moscow on the rise, she may well be running for her fourth term as the sole European leader willing to stand up to a newly assertive Russia.”