- Vocal Opposition Has Helped Keep Merkel From Endorsing Broader Penalties on Moscow
The Wall Street Journal
By Matthew Karnitschnig
1 May 2014
BERLIN — Angela Merkel is carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions.
Several of the biggest names in German business—including chemical giant BASF BAS.XE +0.70% SE, engineering group Siemens AG SIE.XE -0.96% , Volkswagen AG VOW3.XE -1.70% , Adidas AG ADS.XE +0.27% and Deutsche Bank AG DBK.XE -0.49% —have made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private. (Read the latest updates on the crisis in Ukraine.)
As a result, Germany's position on additional, tougher sanctions is unlikely to shift, barring a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Ukraine—a message Ms. Merkel is expected to deliver to President Barack Obama when they meet in Washington on Friday, officials in Berlin say.
As the Ukraine crisis has worsened, German officials have faced a barrage of telephone calls from senior corporate executives, urging them not to take steps that would damage business interests in Russia, people familiar with the matter say.
Until now, Western sanctions have targeted individuals and companies, but the U.S. is pushing for broader sanctions that could hit entire Russian sectors if the situation escalates.
In public, some German corporate chieftains have warned against escalating the measures.
"If there's a single message we have as business leaders, then it's this: sit down at the negotiating table and resolve these matters peacefully," Eckhard Cordes, a former Daimler AG executive who now heads the Ostauschuss, German industry's lobbying arm for Eastern Europe, told a recent conference in Berlin.