GERMANY (OBSERVATORY) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against Russia’s demonicism, saying Germany’s history required it to play a special role in maintaining dialogue with Moscow.
In an interview published by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, Steinmeier expressed concern that Western air strikes on Syria on Saturday raised the risk of direct confrontation between Russian and US troops for the first time.
Steinmeier said: “We are in the next stage of escalation in Russian-American relations.”
The air strikes on Syria, which targeted Syrian chemical weapons facilities, have exacerbated tensions between Moscow and Western countries that had expelled more than 130 Russian diplomats in response to a poison gas attack in Britain that London accused Moscow of carrying out.
Syria has denied using chemical weapons against civilians and Russia has denied involvement in the poison gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.
The German president said the evidence clearly indicated Russia’s involvement, a matter of grave concern, but “the increasing isolation between Russia and the West should also raise our concern for consequences beyond this issue. In particular, there is no basis for trust.”
Steinmeier urged German politicians to leave room for dialogue with Russia and avoid portraying Russia and its people as enemies even if pressure continues on Moscow because of its annexation of the Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
“Regardless of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, we can not declare that Russia, the country and the people, enemies.”
“This contradicts our history and raises many questions,” the German president said.