German execs criticise West for allowing Russia tension to rise
FRANKFURT, March 29 (Reuters) - Several top German executives have criticised U.S. and European action against Russia after the latter's annexation of the Crimea region triggered the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, Die Welt newspaper reported on Saturday.
Herbert Hainer, chief executive of sporting goods maker Adidas, told the German newspaper he believed the West waited too long to start talks with President Vladimir Putin when tensions between Russia and Ukraine rose.
"We should ask ourselves if someone like Putin shouldn't have been part of the process much earlier, instead of holding off with talks until it's too late," he said.
Adidas has a high exposure to the Russian market, where it operates over 1,000 stores. Its share price has taken a hit, falling 15 percent since the start of the year, at least partly on concern over the Crimea crisis.
The European Union, United States and other Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its seizure of the Crimea region and have threatened broader economic penalties if the crisis escalates.
Russia is Germany's 11th biggest commercial partner, with trade reaching 76.5 billion euros ($105 billion) last year, according to the trade association Ost Ausschuss.
Many companies are worried about losing out on business if further sanctions take effect. Some 300,000 German jobs are linked to business there and Europe's biggest economy depends on Russia for 35 percent of its gas.
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