Germany worried by eastern Ukraine flare-up

Germany said on Monday it was worried by the actions of pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine and called for stability in the region.

Germany worried by eastern Ukraine flare-up
Pro-Russian protesters burn tires in Kharkiv. Photo: DPA

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Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin was watching events in the eastern Ukrainian cities Donetsk and Kharkiv closely after irate activists occupied government buildings there Sunday.    

On Monday, the demonstrators proclaimed independence from Kiev and vowed to hold a referendum on joining Kremlin rule.

"We in the German government have been observing recent events in Donetsk and Kharkiv with a great deal of concern," he told reporters.

"We must renew our urgent call to work toward the stability of the region so that such flare-ups can be avoided."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said later that recent events showed "how difficult the work still ahead of us, in effect, is" and urged efforts to stabilize Ukraine economically and politically.

"That will not succeed if the country moves towards a political division," he told reporters after a meeting of his Social Democratic Party's leadership in Berlin.

Meanwhile Seibert said Berlin was "disappointed" there was no "verifiable" sign of a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from a sensitive border region with Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin announced during a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week.

"Of course we are not the only ones waiting for such urgently needed confidence-building measures to become apparent," he said, adding that a troop withdrawal from the region would mark a "step toward deescalation."

Seibert said that Germany was nevertheless committed to "dialogue" with Russia "with the aim of rapprochement, diplomacy and deescalation."

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Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.