(Recasts with Siemens CEO comments)
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia/BERLIN The chief executive
of engineering conglomerate Siemens gave a rare sign of German
support to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the height of an
economic standoff with the West over Ukraine, saying his firm
supported a "trusting relationship" with Russian companies.
During a trip to Moscow, in which he met Putin at his
residence on Wednesday, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said his firm
wanted to honour long-standing business contracts and did not
pay too much attention to "short-term turbulences" in its
"We support a trusting relationship with Russian companies,"
Kaeser told journalists in Russia in response to a question
whether sanctions against Russian Railways boss Vladimir Yakunin
could affect its projects with the state rail monopoly firm.
The United States has levied sanctions against several
Russian individuals - including Yakunin - over Moscow's
annexation of Crimea. Russian Railways has said that decision
against Yakunin was unjustified.
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 have mastered a range of challenges successfully" over
time, Kaeser told German public TV channel ZDF later on
Wednesday. "Therefore I believe it is good to stay in dialogue
and to talk about the things that are in the way and to find
Kaeser said the German government knew about his trip in
advance and had not pressured him. 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.
But she stressed that while business with Russian companies
was not yet part of the sanctions - and she hoped they would not
become one - she also trusted German businesses would comply if
economic sanctions were expanded to include company dealings
"(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
"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, Sonya Hepinstall and Andrew Hay)