BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will host President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for talks near Berlin this weekend, in a surprise move that analysts said showed how foes and allies of the United States alike were shifting in response to the Trump administration’s sweeping tariffs and unpredictable diplomacy.
The chancellor and the Russian president will meet on Saturday at the German government’s version of Camp David, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Monday. He said the talks were expected to focus on the situation in Syria, violence in eastern Ukraine and a joint pipeline for natural gas.
But analysts said that beyond the detailed points of the meeting might be an attempt to strengthen alliances and exchange ideas about how best to respond to President Trump’s tariffs. Both Russia and Germany have been hit by tariffs on aluminum and steel, and both fear the ripple effects of Mr. Trump’s recent measures against Turkey.
The German and Russian leaders last met in May, when Mr. Putin welcomed Ms. Merkel to his residence in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
“I would view this meeting in a wider, global context,” said Stefan Meister, the director of programs on Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “I don’t see this as a signal of warming relations between Berlin and Moscow, but they share common points of interest where they are increasingly willing to cooperate.”
At the top of that list would be the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would carry natural gas directly to Germany from Russia via the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine and Poland.
The United States has always opposed the idea, and before the opening of a NATO summit meeting last month Mr. Trump used it as the basis of a blistering rhetorical attack on Germany, which he said was “captive to Russia.”
Berlin maintains economic sanctions against Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. But they are bound by a long history of economic and other ties, as well as the legacy of several bitter wars and of Russia’s Cold War domination of the former East Germany. Germany is home to about three million “Russian-Germans,” entitled to claim citizenship by blood as the descendants of Germans who emigrated to Russia centuries ago.
Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin, too, have a long, if sometimes troubled, history, stretching back before she took office in 2005. She speaks fluent Russian, he fluent German.
And although she has a reputation both for reserve on the international stage and for coolly resisting authoritarian leaders, the two have spoken regularly on the phone, despite the Crimea crisis of 2014 and Russia’s escalation of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine the following year.
Weeks after Mr. Trump’s verbal attack on the pipeline at the NATO meeting, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia flew to Berlin to meet with Ms. Merkel and her foreign minister, Heiko Maas. Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian general staff, also took part in the discussions, which focused on the situation in Syria.
Ms. Merkel continues to be haunted politically by fallout from her 2015 response to Syria’s humanitarian crisis, allowing hundreds of thousands of migrants into Germany, though the number of Syrians seeking asylum in Germany has dropped considerably since then.
A deal that would allow some of those Syrian refugees to return home could shore up her position. Given Moscow’s role in supporting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, it would require Russian participation.
On the violence in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow has supported pro-Russian rebels, Germany worked with France to broker a peace deal, the Minsk agreement. But fighting has continued since, and many of Germany’s European Union partners fear that the Nord Stream 2 project could jeopardize any hope of permanent stability, by denying Ukraine income and removing one of Russia’s incentives to maintain peace there.
Mr. Seibert, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, insisted on Monday that Germany continued to support Ukraine’s role as a transit country for Russian gas.
Washington has promised further sanctions against Russia in response to the attempted assassination in March of a former Russian spy living in England and his daughter. So far, German companies in Russia have not been affected by such measures.
But there are fears that banks and energy companies, in particular, could be harmed — one motive for greater cooperation, according to Michael Harms, chief executive of the German Eastern Business Association.
“I do not see that there has been a change in relations between Moscow and Berlin,” Mr. Harms said. “But on certain, specific issues they are working together more closely, largely in response to the U.S. foreign policy we see coming out of Washington.”
Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting from Moscow.