(Adds Merkel comment)
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, March 26 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Germany’s Siemens said his firm supported a “trusting relationship” with Russian companies after meeting President Vladimir Putin at his residence outside Moscow on Wednesday.
The United States has levied sanctions against several Russian individuals - including Russian Railways boss Vladimir Yakunin - over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Engineering conglomerate Siemens has a partnership with Russian Railways, the state railway monopoly, under which it provides high-speed trains for rail lines between St Petersburg, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, according to the Siemens website.
“We support a trusting relationship with Russian companies,” Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser told journalists in response to a question whether the sanctions against Yakunin could affect its projects with the rail firm.
Russian Railways has said the decision to put Yakunin on the U.S. blacklist is unjustified.
Kaeser said the German government had not pressured him in any way over his visit to Russia. “There was no pressure, when the head of a major German company, which has worked in Russia for 160 years, came to meet with the Russian president,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asked during a news conference in Berlin whether she was opposed to Kaeser’s meeting with Putin, said business contacts with Russia were still in place and she hoped sanctions would not have to move to the next level.
”(The head of BDI industry lobby) told me today that a value system is highly important for business, too because business investment relies on reliability,“ Merkel said. ”There can only be reliability if contracts and international treaties are adhered to.
“But Russia must know that if certain further international treaties are broken, then we are ready for a tough reaction. That’s an important message.” (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya,; Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Pravin Char and Sonya Hepinstall)