"Even during the Cold War, we always maintained contacts with then the Soviet Union. I consider it right. From my point of view, it is not at all reprehensible if a prime minister, no matter from what political camp, also participates in conferences in Russia and has meetings with the Russian president. Russia is too big a neighbor for us to just ignore it. Therefore, we should ... make cooperation and maintaining relations [with Russia] our policy goal," Kramp-Karrenbauer said at a conference, streamed on Die Welt newspaper's website.
At the same time, she stressed Germany needed "a clear position and a clear signal that, in any case, we are able to protect ourselves against ... attempts to destabilise us."
Relations between Moscow and the West deteriorated in 2014 amid the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The European Union and the United States imposed restrictive measures against Russian individuals, companies and economic sectors. Moscow has responded by imposing restrictions on food imports from the countries that supported the sanctions.