"Russia has been and remains an extremely important partner for Germany and German economy despite current downturn in bilateral economic relations," Gabriel said in an interview with Russlandkontrovers.de news portal.
According to the minister, the Russian economy growth rate started to decrease in 2013, even prior to the Ukrainian crisis and introduction of the EU anti-Russian sanctions. The downfall has started in 2014 and continues until now and influences the bilateral Russia-Germany trade.
"Despite the current troubles, which, for sure, will continue to exist for some period of time, Russia remains Germany's key partner," the minister added.
Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, stating that Moscow does not take part in the Ukrainian conflict. In response to the sanctions, Russia has imposed a food embargo on some products originating in countries that have targeted it with sanctions.