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German chancellor against imposition of economic sanctions on Russia

The German-Russian trade in 2013 totaled 76 billion euros

BERLIN, March 27, /ITAR-TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the crisis around Ukraine should be resolved by political means without imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

Merkel said in Berlin on Wednesday after talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye that the West “has not reached a stage that implies the imposition of economic sanctions” on Moscow.

“And I hope we will be able to avoid it,” she said. “I am not interested in escalation. On the contrary, I am working on de-escalation of the situation.”

German experts say economic sanctions against Russia that Western countries could impose for Russia’s position on the situation in Ukraine and Crimea would negatively affect Germany’s economy.

The German-Russian trade in 2013 totaled 76 billion euros; some 6,000 German companies do business with Russian enterprises; the overall volume of their investment totals 20 billion euros. Some 300,000 jobs in Germany depend on the country’s economic relations with Russia.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov commented on ratings agencies’ actions to revise the outlook on Russia’s sovereign rating.

“At present, the investors’ worries are connected with the consequences of sanctions. We see ratings agencies lower the outlook on Russia’s ratings. It certainly puts us on alert. There are no basic grounds for changing the general stability of Russia’s economy,” Siluanov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

He stated that Russia has a solid balance sheet, and that the current balance is improving. Siluanov also cited foreign investors’ hopes that the sanctions are temporary, adding that “neither Western companies nor Russia need the sanctions.”

“I hope that quantitative sanctions will not grow. The measures that were taken regarding certain persons and companies have their effect. The general mood around Russia has become nervous. But we have good conditions for business. I call on foreign investors to look at the Russian Federation as a reliable partner,” he said.

Crimea signed a treaty with Russia to become its constituent member on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February that occurred after months of anti-government protests, which often turned violent.

President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns last month. Russia considers Yanukovich Ukraine’s legitimate leader and does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, but the West claims they are legitimate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have repeatedly stated that the Crimean referendum was in full conformity with the international law and the UN Charter, and also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008.

Despite that, Ukraine’s new self-proclaimed authorities and the West have denounced the Crimean plebiscite claiming it was illegal, and have refused to recognize Crimea part of Russia. Western countries moved further, imposing sanctions on Russian officials, but Moscow responded tit for tat. Meanwhile, the West has threatened Russia with new economic sanctions unless Moscow changes its foreign policy.