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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned his Russian counterpart that Berlin will respond to the assassination of a Chechen-Georgian man. Maas also rebuked US senators who threatened sanctions against Germany.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday warned Moscow Germany would take further action against Russia in relation to last year's murder of a Chechen man with Georgian citizenship in broad daylight in Berlin.
Speaking at a news conference following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Maas told his Russian counterpart there would be consequences if a court coincided with the prosecutors' conclusion that the murder had been ordered by a Russian state body.
"It's up to the court what the verdict will be. That will be the basis for our reaction," Maas said. If the court reached the same conclusion, "one must also expect further reactions."
Prior to his trip, Maas said he would seek "clarification" and a "frank discussion" on Germany-Russia bilateral relations on his trip to Russia since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia falls short on assisting murder probe
Various German authorities have made a total of 17 requests to Moscow for information in connection with the murder of the 40-year-old Georgian citizen. A Russian man allegedly gunned down the victim with three shots. The suspect was caught the same day and has since been in custody.
His trial is expected to take place before a Berlin court but no date has been set. After a months-long investigation, Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office said it believes that the murder in the Kleiner Tiergarten was commissioned by the Russian government.
Berlin in December expelled two Russian diplomats, accusing Moscow of failing to cooperate effectively in the investigation of the murder. The Russian government had agreed with the expulsion.
Meanwhile, Maas hit back at the US denouncement over Germany's natural gas pipeline extension to Russia. Maas said it was his country's sovereign right to decide on its energy sources.
"Sanctions between partners are definitely the wrong way to go," Maas said.
"Ultimately, it remains our sovereign decision where we get our energy from. No country has the right to dictate Europe's energy policy with threats. That won't be successful," he added.
Washington has repeatedly expressed discontent that the Nord Stream pipeline extension could increase Russia's political and economic influence in Europe.
Last week, US Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson in a letter pledged "crushing legal and economic sanctions" against Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH, the operator of the Murkan Port, where Russian vessels are helping build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
The letter prompted Maas to telephone US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express his "surprise and displeasure."
mvb, rc/dj (dpa, Reuters)