Is Steinmeier a a "Russia-sympathizer": Local: Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?

09:52 Aug. 30, 2016

Local: Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, welcomes Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 (AP photo)

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer"

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier continued to push his ideas for détente towards Russia on Monday, arguing for better relations between the two countries at a conference in Berlin.

"We cannot simply wish away a Russia that has become immensely more difficult," he said, calling for Germany and Russia to go from "a phase of confrontation and growing tensions, back to a reliable understanding of common security".

Read also Steinmeier warns of "confrontation relapse" between Russia and NATO

His comments followed an opinion piece he wrote for daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week where he called for a new arms control deal with Russia in order to ease tensions between Moscow and the West.

The foreign minister wrote that he wanted to avoid a "new and dangerous arms race" so as to ensure stability for Europe and that a new deal with Russia would be a "proven means for transparency, risk prevention and trust-building."

Read also Steinmeier leaves open possibility of easing sanctions against Russia

Still, he also noted that Russia had broken trust when it annexed Crimea in Ukraine in March of 2014.

"At the same time, we must all be united in the desire to avoid a further twist in the escalating spiral," he wrote.

He went on to call for a "structured dialogue with all partners who carry responsibility for the security of our continent."

But such comments have led critics to deride Steinmeier as a Russland-Versteher (Russia-sympathizer) due to his seemingly sympathetic stance, especially in comparison with his party's conservative coalition partners in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), like Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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