“Whoever is in the EU is not neutral. We have a common approach and that means being willing to agree to a common stance towards Russia,” Roth told Deutsche Welle.
Despite the sanctions imposed against Russia, “we [the EU and Russia] do not put our relations on the backburner,” he said, adding that the EU wants communication with Russian leaders.
The minister added that there should not be an impression that closeness to Russia can be played off against closeness to the EU.
The confrontation between the West and Russia has deepened amid the Ukrainian crisis as the European Union, the United States and their allies accused Moscow of escalating tensions in Donbas.
Due to the crisis in Ukraine, the West imposed several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions. Moscow, repeatedly denied meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and responded with a year-long food import ban on countries that introduced the sanctions.