Europe News

Germany disconcerted by Russian readiness to cut EU ties if hit with sanctions

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Foreign Ministry on Friday described as “disconcerting” comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow was ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc hits it with new economic sanctions.

“These statements are really disconcerting and incomprehensible,” a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told a regular government news conference in Berlin. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert added: “I can only underline that.”

The ministry spokeswoman pointed to remarks by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who did not rule out new sanctions, but at the same time stressed the importance of dialogue with Russia.

Relations between Russia and the West have come under renewed pressure over the arrest and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, which has sparked talk of possible new sanctions.

Reporting by Paul Carrel; editing by Thomas Seythal, Kirsti Knolle