Bavaria's governor is drawing criticism in Germany for traveling to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and sounding a softer tone on sanctions than his country's government.

Putin received Horst Seehofer Wednesday night. Seehofer leads one of Germany's three governing parties but is an often-awkward ally. In recent months he has been the most prominent domestic critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy.

Seehofer called on his way to Moscow for a loosening of sanctions "in a foreseeable period of time."

The German government's coordinator for relations with Russia, Gernot Erler, accused Seehofer Thursday of a lack of solidarity. He told Deutschlandfunk radio that pressure is needed to ensure that Moscow behaves constructively in implementing a peace accord for Ukraine and creating impressions of disunity isn't helpful.