Renewing EU sanctions against Russia may be difficult – German Foreign Minister

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Steinmeier also urged NATO to seek dialogue with Russia as the Alliance increases its presence on its Eastern flank, and warned against “any taboos” in tackling the refugee crisis.

“We need a dialogue with Russia in order to rebuild the trust that has been lost and to reduce the risk of being inadvertently drawn into a spiral of escalation. It is therefore good that the NATO – Russia Council will gather for discussions again before the Summit in Warsaw,” he said.

“We are aware that resistance in the EU to extending the sanctions towards Russia has increased. It will be more difficult than it was last year to find a common position on this issue. But we will work hard to ensure that Europe presents a united front on this question.

“As far as we are concerned, the sanctions remain inextricably linked to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” said the German Foreign Minister.

“One thing is for sure: We cannot ignore Russia’s annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine. We have sent a clear message to this effect.

“We are also tirelessly working on a solution to the conflict in Ukraine in the “Normandy” Format. We would like to have made more progress in this area, but this depends on both sides, Ukraine and Russia, implementing arrangements that have been agreed on.

“Yet it is also a fact that we need Russia in tackling the major international trouble spots – both in Syria and in our efforts to stabilise Libya. Particularly in times of crisis, we need formats that allow us to break our silence and to return to the negotiating table,” he said.

Steinmeier reiterated Germany’s support for the Baltic States saying: “At the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting last week, we reiterated our solidarity with the Alliance’s Eastern partners. Germany is already heavily involved in air-policing in the Baltic region. We have also played an instrumental role in getting the new NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force off the ground. Since 2015, we have deployed a rotating company to the Baltic region.

“At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, we will also discuss further ways to increase NATO’s presence in the Alliance’s Eastern territory. At the same time, it is important that our actions are always guided by NATO’s basic philosophy, which is founded on deterrence and detente. I fear that solely focusing on a readiness to defend could entail risks, which are in no one’s interest.”

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