German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has rejected additional EU sanctions against Russia over the recent Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border and the Kremlin's treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He said this in an interview with public broadcaster ARD.
Maas characterized the current German-Russian relationship as "very bad", but added it "doesn't have to stay that way."
He said the German government should engage in more dialogue with Moscow, and added it is the "essence of diplomacy" to talk with countries that have opposing viewpoints.
"This is especially true for Russia right now," Maas said.
At the same time, Maas said German sanctions against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea will continue until there is a political solution.
In regards to jailed Kremlin critic Navalny, Maas said he believes tougher sanctions would be counterproductive on getting the Kremlin to release the opposition leader or improve his situation.
"Do you think Moscow will say 'thank you very much for imposing even tougher sanctions? I don't think so, I think the opposite would be the case," he added.
The German foreign minister noted that President Joe Biden has already threatened consequences for Russia if Navalny dies while in custody.
"I believe President Putin knows exactly what to expect if it would get that far," Maas said, while refusing to respond to whether he agrees with Biden's characterization of Putin as a "killer."
Earlier, to protect its coastline in light of rising tensions on the border with Russia, Ukraine asked Germany to supply defensive weapons - used German corvettes, anti-ship missile components, air defense systems and mine-clearing equipment.
It is noted that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reacted negatively to the possible supply of weapons to the Ukrainian side. Defense Minister Annegrette Kramp-Karrenbauer and the chairman of the foreign policy committee of the Bundestag Norbert Röttgen expressed a positive attitude towards this.