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Germany sees no change in Crimea as action against Russia looms

Source: Reuters - Wed, 5 Mar 2014 14:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BERLIN, March 5 (Reuters) - The German government sees no substantial changes in the situation in Crimea, the Ukrainian region occupied by Russia, that would avoid sanctions against Moscow or permit a summit of G8 leaders in Sochi due in June to go ahead, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said on Wednesday.

"The German government continues to view the situation in Ukraine as alarming," said the chancellor's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, describing the situation in Crime as "unacceptable".

European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to talk about possible measures against Russia if Moscow does not show signs of cooperation towards a diplomatic solution.

"If there is to be a diplomatic process, everything has to be done to promote stability in Ukraine and everything avoided that could lead to destabilisation," Seibert said. "Russia must stop the pin-pricks that could lead to destabilisation."

Merkel has proposed to President Vladimir Putin the idea of a "contact group" of states and organisations to help facilitate communications between Moscow and the new government in Kiev, which he currently does not recognise as legitimate.

"The talks for that haven't broken off. But we're not over the hill yet. It's very important for the German government that these talks move forward successfully," Seibert said. But time was running out for Moscow, he added.

"We have to wait on the outcome of the talks but it has to be noted that there has been no substantial change in the situation in Crimea," said Seibert. "The window for a political solution won't be open forever."

The Group of Seven major industrialised nations, condemning Russia's intrusion in Ukraine, have suspended preparations for the June summit of the G8, which groups the G7 and Russia.

"All preparatory activities (for the G8 meeting) have been suspended until the end of March," said Seibert. "In order for a summit to take place, a certain environment is needed. And based on the current situation this environment doesn't exist." (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Additional reporting by Gernot Heller; Editing by Stephen Brown)

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