Germany must change its policy towards Russia and freeze the issue of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea for an indefinite term, giving Russian President Vladimir Putin an opportunity to change his policy without losing face, Christian Lindner, the leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) told Zeitungen der Funke Mediengruppe on Aug.5, the Tagesschau news website reported.

“The security and prosperity of Europe depends on its relationship with Moscow,” Lindner said.

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Lindner said the de-occupation of Crimea should be set aside for the moment in order to make progress in negotiations with the Kremlin.

“The conflict over the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia must be “encapsulated” in order to make progress in other areas,” FDP leader said.

However, Lindner added that the sanctions against Russia must remain until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented by the both sides in the war-torn Donbas. “Even small positive steps have to be appreciated,” the FDP leader said .

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In a video statement published after his interview, Lindner stressed that recognizing Crimea’s annexation was still unacceptable.

However, Tagesschau points out that Lindner’s words contradicted the official election program of the FDP.

It states that sanctions against Russia must remain until Ukraine’s full territorial integrity is restored.

“We Free Democrats are calling on the Russian government to put an immediate end to the illegal occupation of the Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine,” the program reads.

The FDP has been dropping in the polls in Germany recently, and it did badly at parliamentary elections in 2013. The party hopes  for a comeback at the upcoming September elections in Germany.

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