Russia will remain a difficult partner for Europe: Maas

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attends a meeting with his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz (not pictured) during his visit in Warsaw Poland, March 16, 2018. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia will remain a difficult partner, said new German foreign minister Heiko Maas, reacting to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s re-election on Sunday and questioning its fairness.

The European Union must be able to continue to talk to Russia, despite a host of issues, he said.

“The result of the election in Russia was as unsurprising to us as the circumstances of the election. We can’t talk about a fair political competition in all respects as we would understand it,” he told reporters, arriving at a monthly meeting of EU foreign ministers.

“Russia will remain a difficult partner. But Russia will also be needed for solutions to the big international conflicts and so we want to remain in dialogue,” Maas said.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Robin Emmott; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely