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Merkel backs Ukraine diplomacy while putting onus on Russia

By (공용)코리아헤럴드

Published : March 9, 2015 - 21:36

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis while underlining that the onus is on Russia due to its seizure of Ukrainian territory.

"Through the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and the support of the separatists in the east of Ukraine, Russia violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Merkel said Monday in a speech in Tokyo. Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Ukraine's Crimea last March.
           
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande helped broker a peace accord signed Feb. 12 that's taking hold after 11 months of fighting has left more than 6,000 people dead, according to the United Nations. The Ukrainian conflict has plunged Russia into its worst standoff with the European Union and NATO allies since the end of the Cold War.
           
Separatists opened fire and shelled Ukrainian government forces 40 times in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters Monday in Kiev. Four soldiers were injured and none were killed, he said. A railroad bridge linking rebel-held territory with government-controlled territory was blown up in the Luhansk region, the rebel-linked Luhansk Information Center said on its website.
           
Lysenko said rebel forces are regrouping and the Kiev government has no information on whether they've completed an agreed pullback. He said that while Ukraine has concluded the fourth stage of a heavy weapons withdrawal "we will not bare our front line completely" before there's reliable information that rebels have also withdrawn.
           
Merkel's Diplomacy

"We also pin our hopes on a diplomatic solution," Merkel said. "This is the reason why I, together with the president of the French Republic, Francois Hollande, and all other European and transatlantic partners, and also Japan, have been working on the implementation of the agreements on overcoming the crisis."
           
Merkel, who has warned that the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be prepared for a potentially lengthy standoff with the Kremlin over Ukraine, said outside powers have no right to influence the Kiev government's direction.

"Ukraine, just as any other country, has the right to determine its own path into the future in full sovereignty," the German leader said. (Bloomberg)