Germany offers cooperation on renewables to defuse tensions with Russia

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FILE PHOTO: Bundestag session in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Economics Minister Robert Habeck wants to engage Russia economically by cooperating on renewable energy supplies to help de-escalate tensions over Ukraine, he told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview published on Friday.

"We should also think about new business areas that can help lead both sides out of this confrontational position," Habeck, who is also vice-chancellor, told the magazine.

The top Russian and American diplomats are due to meet in Switzerland on Friday to discuss heightened tensions over Ukraine after a flurry of meetings between officials on both sides in the last week produced no breakthroughs.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Russia on Thursday to step back from escalating the situation, warning it faced a range of sanctions if it acted aggressively.

Germany is ready to defend fundamental values in the stand-off, even if this means paying a high economic price, Baerbock said in Moscow a day earlier.

On the possibility that Russia might be excluded from the Swift international payments system, Habeck, who is a member of the Greens, said there was no point in "enumerating sanctions in the abstract".

However, he added it was "the ultimate economic sanction" and that his goal was de-escalation.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mark Potter)