Germany has sent out mixed messages over its relationship with Russia in recent weeks, showing how carefully the country feels it needs to tread so it doesn't alienate a neighbor and key trading partner.
While the country recently joined with other global powers in condemning an attack on a former Russian double agent who was poisoned, along with his daughter, in the U.K. at the start of March, it has also tried to keep the peace diplomatically.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in Communist East Germany and is a fluent Russian speaker, sent congratulations to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday after his latest election win, despite the vote being seen as lacking real political plurality and riven with irregularities.
The mixed messages come as European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, where there is an expectation that leaders will again express solidarity with Britain after the attack, which saw a Russian-made nerve agent used on British soil.
European Council President Donald Tusk called on his peers to express solidarity with Britain at the summit and Merkel appeared to express such sentiment on Wednesday. She told German lawmakers that the bloc must recognize evidence pointing towards Russian collusion in the attack and that the EU address its future relationship with its powerful neighbor.
"I would be happy if I didn't have to name Russia here, but we can't ignore evidence just because we don't want to call out Russia. That's no way to operate," Merkel told the Bundestag on Wednesday ahead of the EU Council meeting.