For now, ‘normal relations’ with Russia are out of the question, says German foreign minister
Any business as usual with Russia is impossible in the near future because of the Ukrainian conflict, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday. She also promised that Berlin and its allies would step up sanctions pressure on Moscow.
Speaking to the Romanian television channel Digi 24, the minister pointed out that “There can be no normal relations with this Russia” amid fighting between Moscow and Kyiv forces and the stalemate with the West.
The EU would prefer “a peaceful and democratic Russia that poses no threat to its neighbours,” Baerbock said, adding that it houses “no illusions” on this point. “We live in a different reality right now.”
In this context, the Minister noted that the West should engage in the “permanent strengthening of our common security against Russia”.
According to Baerbock, as long as Moscow pays “the brutal war of aggression”, the West will gradually tighten its sanctions policy. However, she did not specify what additional restrictions might be on the horizon.
She added that Western capitals would support Ukraine “as long as necessary” provide it with weapons, as well as humanitarian and financial aid, because the nation “defends the freedom of Europe.”
However, she took a more cautious tone about kyiv’s aspirations to join the EU. While welcoming the bloc’s decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine in June as “historic moment” Baerbock admitted that “the road will still be long and certainly sometimes difficult.”
To pave the way for Kyiv’s membership, Western countries are doing their best to help the country bring its legal system into line with EU standards, she said.
After the start of the Russian military operation against Ukraine at the end of February, Germany supplied Ukraine with large quantities of weapons and joined in the Western sanctions against Moscow. The restrictions targeted entire sectors of the Russian economy, particularly energy exports, while hundreds of senior officials were blacklisted and about half of the country’s foreign exchange reserves were frozen, a decision denounced by Moscow as essentially “flight.”
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed that the EU was carrying out a “hybrid warfare” against Moscow, arguing that Brussels’ policies have only harmed the interests of the bloc’s citizens while bringing its relations with Russia to their “the lowest point.”
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