A close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is under EU sanctions was able to show up at talks in Germany about the Ukraine crisis because he was granted an exception, a spokeperson for the German government told BuzzFeed News.
Vladislav Surkov was pictured at the talks, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sitting next to Putin. Both the US and EU slapped sanctions on him in the wake of Russia's seizure of Crimea and meddling in east Ukraine. Surkov, once one of the most powerful men in the Kremlin when he worked as Putin's deputy chief of staff, now acts as the president's point man on Ukraine.
"In accordance with EU rules, an exception has been applied for and granted to Mr. Surkov," the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an email.
Surkov previously traveled to Greece on a religious pilgrimage that was reported at the time as a violation of sanctions. It is not clear if he applied for an exception then.
The talks in Germany brought together Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. French President François Hollande joined, as well as Merkel. The idea behind the meeting was to restart talks on ending the continuing conflict in Ukraine.