How best to end the Ukraine conflict? A mix of diplomacy and sanctions, says the deputy head of the Christian Democrats' parliamentary group, Andreas Schockenhoff - but no military operations.
DW: How do you rate reports about what appears to be a massive presence of Russian troops in Ukraine?
Andreas Schockenhoff: We'll have to wait and see whether the reports are true. We've seen an undeclared Russian war on Ukraine so far. In the past days and weeks, Russia has already directly and indirectly joined in the fighting. If it turns out to be true that Russia is in fact sending large groups of troops over the border, that would show that Putin's promises are worthless and that Putin doesn't do what he says he will do. That's disastrous for a politician because it destroys trust and reliability. We must restore reliability. We want to cooperate closely and trustingly with Russia, but that is impossible on the basis of deception and lies, it can only work based on a just, reliable exchange of interests.
Do you see any chance of a diplomatic solution to the conflict at this point?
We must always, at any time, campaign for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. But we must also make it clear to Mr. Putin that he is currently doing great harm to his own country and citizens' interests. Russia's aggression doesn't only isolate the country economically - it isolates the country politically and harms the Russian Federation's prospects for the future.
But Putin remains a point of contact for the West all the same?
We must stay in touch all the time, even in case of a military confrontation we can't lose track of our dialogue. We have in fact dismissed launching a military response to Russia's military aggression - so if necessary, we'll have to find a different solution. Should Russia increase the military pressure, we would have to discuss further sanctions.
What could those sanctions be?
We could include other sectors - economic sectors, too - in the sanctions, but mainly, we would have to think about more constraints on financial and bank transactions with Russia.
You've dismissed any military intervention by the EU, but just recently, Ukraine asked for military support. Is there any way Ukraine can expect this military backing?
We excluded direct military intervention by the EU and it would be wrong to speculate at this point. With the position unanimously agreed by the 28 member states, I believe we've given a clear signal of EU unity. Putin's attempt to divide the Europeans has failed, so Russia's military aggression is less a sign of strength than of a political failure.
How can you back President Poroshenko? What can Germany do?
With her visit to Kyiv, the German Chancellor indicated that Ukraine has a clear European perspective that we'd like to implement as soon as possible after signing the Association Agreement. We also won't leave the military aggression against Ukraine unanswered.
What does that mean?
That means we must ponder whether we're being forced to escalate sanctions to the next stage.
Andreas Schockenhoff (57) is the deputy parliamentary group leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats in the German parliament, the Bundestag.