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Germany warns on Russia sanctions

January 4, 2015

Germany's deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has warned against destabilizing Russia through too severe sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. He said an unstable Russia would pose a danger to all of Europe.

:A Russian ruble coin is pictured in front of St. Basil cathedral in central Moscow, on November 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
Image: Alexander Nenenov/AFP/Getty Images

Gabriel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that it was not in Germany's or Europe's interest to bring about a Russian collapse.

"The goal was never to push Russia politically and economically into chaos," Gabriel said in an interview.

"Whoever wants that will provoke a much more dangerous situation for all of us in Europe," he said, adding that the aim of the sanctions so far was to bring Russia back into negotiations.

"We want to help solve the conflict in Ukraine, not to force Russia to its knees ," he said.

German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel
Gabriel is also Germany's economy ministerImage: picture-alliance/dpa/ D.Bockwoldt

Gabriel's comments echo the sentiments voiced by his fellow Social Democrat, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in mid-December.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, has in recent months renewed her criticism of Russia and reaffirmed her belief in sanctions as a way of bringing an end to the Ukraine conflict.

The European Union and the United States have imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia both for its annexation of Crimea early last year and for its alleged role in the Ukraine crisis, accusing it of fueling a pro-Russian insurgency there by supplying the rebels with weapons and troops.

The sanctions, along with plummeting oil prices, sent the ruble into free fall against the dollar last year and raised the specter of a possible deep recession.

tj/ksb (Reuters, AFP)