German Defence Minister and leader of the Christian Democrat Union Party (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed at a press conference in Berlin on Monday the need for a “stable partnership” with Russia, ahead of regional elections in Saxony.

“We are in this aim [good relations with Russia] completely united, Russia is an important partner for us. That is a big country with wonderful people, that we are of course striving for a stable partnership with, in a stable neighbourhood and towards good relations,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

She went on to emphasise the need for a critical view towards Russia especially the way Moscow deals with political opposition in reference to the authorities response to protests in Moscow in support of disqualified city council candidates.

Regional elections in the East-German state of Saxony are due to be held on September 1 when Incumbent Minister-President Michael Kretschmer (CDU) will stand for reelection, with the latest opinion polls indicating that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party could surge into second place just behind the CDU.

The issue of German-Russian relations is a key issue amongst East-German voters, according to recent polls almost three quarters of voters feel that a rapprochement with Moscow is needed and many feel that EU sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea should be eased.