Steinmeier presses Putin in surprise meeting

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was no closer to an answer to escalating violence in Ukraine on Tuesday night despite a surprise meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Steinmeier presses Putin in surprise meeting
Steinmeier and Putin speaking in 2009. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier and Putin spoke for 75 minutes in what members of the German delegation called "earnest and open" talks about "ways out of the Ukraine crisis that could open new avenues of co-operation."

But the meeting left both sides without concrete results to show for it.

A previous meeting between Steinmeier and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was equally fruitless.

After that meeting, Steinmeier spoke of "a truly serious crisis for peaceful order in Europe", echoing his warning of "a great military confrontation" before his meeting earlier in the day with Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko.

"It's time to think beyond Ukraine," Steinmeier warned his Russian interlocutors. "We have a few other global threats to take care of."

Lavrov said that Germany remained a key partner for Russia in seeking a resolution.

"Despite all the differences in the ways we judge the situation in Ukraine, it's important that the dialogue between us doesn't stop."

He did not respond directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel's speech about the Ukraine crisis, which was harshly critical of Russia, made after meeting with Putin at the G20 world leaders' meeting in Brisbane at the weekend.

And he reiterated the importance of economic relationhips with the EU to Russia as its largest trading partner.

"We hope that the point of no return has not yet been reached," he said.

But he said that Russia was not going to "beg" for Western economic sanctions to be lifted.

In Germany, Left party leader Katja Kipping told the Rheinische Post that Merkel should host the next G8 meeting, with Putin as a full participant following his squeezing out of the last summit, which was to be held in Russia.

Meanwhile, Christian Democratic (CDU) politician Norbert Röttgen called on Merkel to maintain her course.

Germany should continue its political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution while supporting Ukraine's economy and maintaining the sanctions system against Russia, he said.

SEE ALSO: Russia "will not prevail" in Ukraine: Merkel

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