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If Putin is not stopping, there will be more sanctions: Germany

Walter J. Lindner expresses optimism and acknowledges that Russia-Ukraine conflict has added a sense of urgency to the whole process
Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin.
File Photo

Anita Joshua   |   New Delhi   |   Published 28.05.22, 12:30 AM

German ambassador Walter J. Lindner on Friday said there could be more sanctions on Russia if President Vladimir Putin intensified his actions against Ukraine and threatened Poland and others, making it clear that the conflict in Europe had added an element of urgency to the India-European Union negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Interacting with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Lindner said the conflict would be high on the agenda at the G7 meeting in Germany next month.


Asked about the possibility of more sanctions on Russia, he replied: “If the aggressor, Mr Putin, is not stopping, if he is intensifying, if he is threatening Poland and others... of course, there will be more sanctions. The sanctions are not our choice. No one in Europe wanted to impose sanctions. We had to impose sanctions because of such a mad action by Putin. It is no secret (that) Putin’s war will be high on the agenda there.”

India is among the non-G7 countries invited to the meeting in the Bavarian Alps.

As for the progress on the talks between India and the European Union on the FTA, Lindner expressed optimism and acknowledged that the Russia-Ukraine conflict had added a sense of urgency to the whole process. “I am very optimistic and confident because the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was here in Delhi and has met the Prime Minister.”

Admitting that there was some delay in setting up negotiation teams, he said von der Leyen’s visit had given the process an extra push. “They are now working on the first texts but, of course, the devil

is in the detail,” Lindner said, adding that “Putin’s war” had made the EU see that “we need partners to keep trade flowing in the world, and if we have partners with similar views which is the European Union and India, it helps. This gave an extra push of urgency to both sides...”

On India’s position on the conflict and the disappointment in the West over New Delhi’s refusal to condemn Russia, Lindner maintained that Germany respects India’s stand.

“Every country has its own interests, its own neighbourhood, its own dependencies…, friendships. Every country in the world has its right to calibrate — according to the interests and regional position — its behaviour of voting,” he said, referring to the series of votes on the conflict in the United Nations where India abstained.

“Our point from the beginning was not to criticise India…. Our point was to make clear what’s really at stake,” Lindner said. According to him, if an aggression like “Putin’s war” goes unpunished, it could embolden others.

There are quite a number of countries in the world, including big ones, including those who are close to India, who might get some appetite with regard to border corrections, border dispute. It could trigger a ‘because Putin used force, let’s do the same’ attitude,” he elaborated, adding that the West took swift action to prevent such an eventuality elsewhere.

Asked about the conversations Germany has had with India over New Delhi’s  restrictions on the export of wheat, the ambassador maintained that India’s decision was not the problem. The problem of hunger has been caused by Putin’s decision to block access to Ukrainian wheat, he said.

“It is because Russia is blockading the harvest of Ukraine. In Ukraine there are more than five million tonnes of wheat, as we speak, in the warehouses. They can’t transport to Africa and other countries because Russia is blocking Mariupol and other harbours in the Black Sea. So, it is because of Putin’s aggressive war and his behaviour to blockade all this that we have hunger and problems of feeding people around the globe,” Lindner said.

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