Germany’s Europe minister called on Monday for a new policy of easing tensions with Russia, adding to a chorus of voices pressing Chancellor Angela Merkel to moderate her hardened stance towards the Kremlin.
Europe Minister Michael Roth, a member of the Social Democrat party (SPD), said that while the European Union needed a united front on Russia, sanctions should aim to bring Moscow to the negotiating table.
“Anti-Russian reflexes are just as dangerous as naively… remaining silent over the nationalist-tinged policies of the current Russian leadership,” he wrote in Die Welt newspaper.
The conservative chancellor swung behind Britain after the poison attack on a former Russian double agent in England last month, expelling four diplomats despite uneasiness among a political class that is wary of confrontation with Germany’s giant eastern neighbour.
Many Western countries are pushing for a more assertive stance against Moscow over President Vladimir Putin’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, accused of using chemical weapons in the country’s civil war.
Merkel’s tone has hardened over the four years since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which led to Western nations imposing the sanctions on Moscow.