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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany Undeterred By Fighting

BONN -- German Economics Minister G--nter Rexrodt said Thursday there was no indication that German investors were pulling out of Russia because of the armed conflict in Chechnya.

"According to our information, there has been little reaction from investors who are already active in Russia," he told reporters ahead of a two-day Russian-German economic summit in St. Petersburg.

But no one could say whether Moscow's efforts to crush the Chechnya uprising would deter future investment, Rexrodt added.

The minister said Russia was by far Germany's most important trading partner in Eastern Europe and he would express his concern in St. Petersburg that the conflict in Chechnya could derail reforms and destabilize the government.

He would also tell Russian ministers that their government's actions in the breakaway region "put massive pressure on their credibility as partners for reform and democracy in Russia."

But rather than take a path of confrontation with Moscow, Rexrodt said the West should maintain and possibly even increase its support for Moscow's reforms.

"Despite all the problems, we still need to have economic contacts to do this, maybe even to intensify them," Rexrodt said. "We certainly do not need excitement, hasty decisions or ill-considered demands for economic pressure or even sanctions."

Rexrodt said Germany had considered postponing the economic conference and economic sanctions could not in principle be ruled out in future if the conflict in Chechnya escalated.

But Germany considered it more important now to support those forces in Russia that were determined to carry out political and economic reforms.

The German cabinet has approved a ceiling on Germes export credit guarantees for Russian companies of 1.5 billion Deutsche marks ($976.8 million), down from 2.5 billion marks last year. But Rexrodt said only 1.6 billion marks of last year's credits were actually used.

Germany had also improved trade conditions for small and medium-sized Russian enterprises, he said.