BERLIN, March 25. /TASS/. The West should more actively use channels for dialogue with Russia, if Moscow shows willingness to do so. Despite the complexity of the Crimea problem, one cannot link improvement of relations with Russia with this issue only, leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party Christian Lindner said in an interview published in in the Welt am Sonntag Sunday newspaper.
"I advise to use the existing negotiation channels with Moscow more intensively. Besides, Russia should be brought closer to the circle of G8 counties. The G7+1 format could be an intermediate step," the politician noted. Lindner stressed that the Crimea issue was "the biggest obstacle to easing tensions" between the West and Moscow. "If we do it in such a way that everything will depend on this crisis, there will be no progress at all," he said. Despite the Western stance, which is that the peninsula’s reunification with Russia contravened international law and "is unacceptable," it is necessary to check whether Russia wants to get out of the escalation spiral with the help of simpler problems, Lindner added. "If there are positive signals from Moscow, we should respond to them positively, even if there is no solution to the Crimea issue yet," the politician pointed out.
He also spoke out in favor of thinking about the expediency of linking anti-Russian sanctions to full compliance with the Minsk agreements. The opposition politician added that restrictive measures "are necessary at the moment." Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel earlier spoke about gradually removing sanctions concurrently with progress in Minsk.
The Free Democratic Party secured 10.7% of votes at the elections to the German Bundestag. Initially, it was to join Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition along with the Green party, but the talks on forming the government were deadlocked. Lindner, 39, has led the party since 2013.
Russia’s stance on Minsk accords
Russia will not allow Ukraine’s attempts to make Donetsk and Lugansk abandon the Minsk agreements to be a success, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier. "Attempts are being made to stifle you [Donbass residents] with a blockade, attempts to make you accept Kiev’s ultimatum and make Donetsk and Lugansk abandon the Minsk agreements," Russia’s top diplomat pointed out. "We will not allow them to succeed."
"The Minsk agreements were endorsed by the UN Security Council," he went on to say. "That’s an international agreement, and it is necessary to execute it.".