Merkel Cited as Keeping Door Open to Putin Amid Russia Sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains a potential partner even as European Union sanctions target the Russian economy.

“I’ve always advocated cooperating constructively with Russia and I’m ready to do so in future,” Saechsische Zeitung quoted Merkel as saying in today’s edition, her first extensive comments after summer vacation. She said she’s “working hard” to maintain a dialogue with Putin, though cooperation “always takes more than just one side,” according to the newspaper.

Merkel reiterated her view that Putin breached the principles of Europe’s post-World War II order by annexing Crimea in March. While “we don’t accept Russia’s actions,” only a political solution can end the crisis over Ukraine, she was quoted as saying.

Merkel’s support of EU sanctions targeting Russian banks, energy and defense industries in July was critical to intensifying pressure on Putin to back in down in Ukraine and keeping Europe and the U.S. aligned in the biggest standoff with Russia since the Cold War.

Saechsische Zeitung is based in Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, a region in formerly communist eastern Germany that’s holding state elections on Aug. 31. Polls suggest Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union will hold on to power in the state, which it has governed since East and West Germany reunified in 1990.

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