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Berlin's decision to scale down dialogue with Russia to harm ties, Duma speaker says

Berlin's decision to scale down the dialogue with Moscow on different directions will not solve the Ukrainian problem, but will damage bilateral relations, Russian State Duma lower house's Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said at talks with Gregor Gysi, Chairman of the Left Party's faction in Bundestag, on Monday.

"We believe it is erroneous to link the further settlement of the situation in Ukraine to sanctions against Russia," the Russian parliamentarian said.

"The decision of the German leadership to downgrade our bilateral contacts on different directions of energy and economic cooperation causes regrets," he said. "The Ukrainian problem cannot be solved this way, while bilateral cooperation, in particular political and economic, will suffer a great damage," the speaker said.

At the same time, Naryshkin noted Gysi's special stance on the Ukrainian issue, and his "balanced and objective assessment" of the situation.

The German politician confirmed that he saw the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis in the country's federalization. He said imposing sanctions against Russia as well as downgrading relations was an erroneous policy. Focusing on relations between Russia and NATO he said "I understand that the West wants Russia to pull back its troops still further from the Ukrainian borders, but then NATO itself must not deploy troops and planes closer and closer to Russian borders," he said.

"A different road must be taken here - de-escalation of tensions," the politician said. "The West must realize that Russia is part of Europe and it must remain as such," Gysi said, adding that "Europe will never feel safe without Russia".

Earlier on Monday, Gysi told reporters that Ukraine must settle its territorial problem itself. "But I hope very much that the road of the country's federalization will be chosen. At the moment I don't see any real way out of the situation," he said after talks with Vice Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Ilyas Umakhanov. The left-wing politician also supported proposal on an international probe into the events on Kiev's Maidan Square and in Odessa, the press service of the Federation Council said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 12May14]

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