The prime minister of the German state of Thuringia joined the chorus of resounding voices against sanctions on Russia, arguing that the “inefficient” penalties don’t deliver peace in Ukraine but increase suffering.
“The political ineffectiveness of the sanctions has long been proven; their declared goal, much-needed peace in Ukraine, is as far away as ever,” Thuringia Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, a long-time member of Germany’s Left Party, told a local paper, adding that “the suffering of the civilian population [is] great.”
He isn’t the only head of a German state to lash out at the sweeping sanctions the US and EU imposed on Moscow in 2014. “Russia is a strategically important partner,” Michael Kretschmer, the prime minister of Saxony and member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), tweeted after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last Friday.
“For a better relationship, we need an end to sanctions,” he said, triggering a wave of criticism from the media and rank-and-file politicians.
The sanctions – which the EU recently prolonged until July 31 – seem to have inflicted less damage on Russia-Germany trade than expected. In April, the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce recorded the highest level of German investment in Russia since before the 2008 financial crisis.
According to a statement from the chamber, the total volume of financial inflows from German investors amounted to €3.2 billion (US$3.6bn) in 2018, exceeding Deutsche Bundesbank forecasts that the figure would reach a maximum level of €2.1 billion.
Meanwhile in neighboring Italy, senior politicians have also called for the sanctions to be abandoned. Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the right-wing Lega Nord party, said before recent EU elections that the sanctions don’t work and that “all decent people” support removing them.
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