Foreign Minister Maas met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Bonn on Thursday (18 July), where the two Foreign Ministers opened the annual Petersburg Dialogue discussion forum. The event is an important bridge in German-Russian exchange. “Even though we currently have fundamentally different views on many issues, dialogue with Russia remains necessary,” Maas said in the run‑up to the talks. He underlined that many pressing global political issues can only be resolved in dialogue with Russia. The talks focused on three topics:
1. Peace in Ukraine
People in eastern Ukraine are still suffering as a result of the conflict with the separatists, who are supported by Russia. Since the election of Ukrainian President Zelensky, there have been positive signs in recent weeks. For example, progress has been made as regards the disengagement of troops around Stanytsia Luhanska. Foreign Minister Maas is endeavouring to help ensure that these achievements are built on. To this end, Russia must play a constructive role. The illegally detained Ukrainian sailors must be released and the provisions of the Minsk Agreement must finally be implemented.
2. Halting escalation in the Middle East
Russia plays an important role in how the situation with Iran develops. Germany and its European partners are working to bring about de‑escalation in the region. All those involved must urge Tehran to return to full compliance with the JCPOA obligations. In the conflict in Syria, too, Russia has significant influence.
3. Preventing a new arms race
As Russia has recently no longer adhered to the INF Treaty rules, one of the most important disarmament agreements may come to an end. The INF Treaty safeguarded security in Europe for decades. Foreign Minister Maas has therefore launched a new initiative for arms control and disarmament. Germany firmly believes that security is created by mutual trust – and this can only be achieved through dialogue.