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Diplo-spat: Germany and China agree to disagree on Russian sanctions

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her counterpart, Qin Gang, Foreign Minister of China, Berlin, May 9 2023
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her counterpart, Qin Gang, Foreign Minister of China, Berlin, May 9 2023 Copyright Michael Kappeler/(c) dpa-pool
Copyright Michael Kappeler/(c) dpa-pool
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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The foreign ministers of Germany and China discussed possible EU sanctions on companies found trading with Russia, particularly in potential military components. Annalena Baerbock said the aggressor in the conflict, Russia, should not be dealt with on the same terms as the victim, Ukraine.

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the European Union was looking at targeted measures to ensure Russia did not obtain sanctioned, war-related goods.

Speaking alongside her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, at a joint news conference after their meeting in Berlin, Baerbock stressed that the EU expected all countries, including China, to advise their companies accordingly.

Western countries have accused Beijing of providing political and material support to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

The European Union is currently considering imposing sanctions against companies that supply critical components to Russia's arms industry.

Qin denied Chinese firms were doing so.

“This war would end immediately if Russia stopped firing missiles at Ukraine and withdrew its soldiers from Ukraine," Baerbock said at the news conference.

"If, on the other hand, Ukraine stops defending the people of Ukraine, then Ukraine would be over. And I don't think that's in the best interests of any member of the Security Council."

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock warned her Chinese counterpart that "neutrality" in the Ukraine war amounts to taking Russia's side, heaping pressure on Beijing to do more to end the conflict. "Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor," Baerbock said during the press conference.

"Neutrality means taking the side of the aggressor, and that is why our guiding principle is to make it clear that we are on the side of the victim," she added.

Qin Gang's response was that China "is acting for peace and negotiation," stressing that the war in Ukraine is a complex conflict that should be analysed with "sobriety" rather than "emotion".

He warned that China will "retaliate" should any sanctions target Chinese companies for their alleged trade with Russia.

According to the Chinese Foreign minister "there is a normal exchange and cooperation between Chinese and Russian companies" that "should not be affected" by possible EU sanctions.

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