BERLIN The German government's point man on Russia, Gernot Erler, has accused U.S. President Donald Trump of undermining the joint position of Western countries towards the Kremlin by creating uncertainty about his approach.
Trump has promised better ties with Russia whereas the European Union has said it will keep sanctions in place until Moscow drops its support for the separatist rebellion in Ukraine.
Trump alarmed European allies when he said before his inauguration that he wanted to see if he could make "some good deals" with Russia.
"Washington is undermining the ability to act of Western politics," Erler told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. "Donald Trump radiates a great sense of uncertainty."
Erler also voiced concern about the influence of Trump's chief strategy adviser Stephen Bannon, the former head of the website Breitbart News, which is a platform for white nationalists and right-wing conspiracy theories.
"One cannot really imagine that the thinking of this man is indeed the basis of the foreign policy of the most important world power," Erler said about Bannon.
Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign only three weeks into the job over disclosures about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.
Trump on Wednesday dismissed the idea of any "Russian connection" in a tweet at the same time as a New York Times report that said members of his presidential campaign had contacts with Russian intelligence officials.
His national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign on Monday only three weeks into the job over disclosures about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by Angus MacSwan)