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Germany's president admits mistakes in previous dialogue efforts with Russia

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By AP  with Euronews
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addresses the media in February.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addresses the media in February.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File

Germany's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has admitted he made mistakes in policy toward Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Steinmeier said that his efforts -- as a former German foreign minister -- to engage with Moscow had failed.

"We failed on many points,” the German President told ZDF television on Tuesday, conceding that among European countries “there were different assessments” of Russia.

“It is true that we should have taken the warnings of our eastern European partners more seriously, particularly regarding the time after 2014 [when Russia annexed Crimea],” he said.

Steinmeier twice served as ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, most recently from 2013 to 2017, and before that as ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s chief of staff.

During that time, Germany pursued dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin on democracy and human rights, as well as cultivating close energy ties.

But Steinmeier has drawn criticism, amid many social media images of him previously embracing Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Steinmeier has also admitted that his support for building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was also "clearly" a mistake.

"We were sticking to a bridge in which Russia no longer believed and which other partners had warned us against," he said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the pipeline in the week that Russia invaded Ukraine.