German Chancellor says Putin’s rebel move ‘will not go unanswered’

The leaders of France, Germany and the United States on Monday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to recognise rebel-held areas in east Ukraine as independent, calling it a "clear breach" of the Minsk peace agreements.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in the Kremlin on Monday night. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pool Sputnik Kremlin/AP | Uncredited

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden agreed that “this step will not go unanswered”, the chancellery said in a statement published following their conversation.

The three Western allies also vowed not to let up in their commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Praising the restraint shown by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the latest developments, they added that they will “do everything in their powers to prevent a further escalation of the situation”.

Late on Monday night, Putin is believed to have ordered troops into two Russian-controlled regions of southeast Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, after declaring these seperatist areas “independent and sovereign” states. 

In a televised speech that lasted around an hour, the Russian leader said his troops would be sent into the regions “on peacekeeping duties”. 

Responding to the sudden news, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Moscow was breaking the Minsk peace agreements that it signed in 2014.

READ ALSO: German chancellor Scholz meets Putin as Ukraine’s fate in the balance

“With its decision, Russia is breaking all its promises to the world community,” she said.

Ahead of Moscow’s signing of the new declaration, Olaf Scholz had used a phonecall with Vladimir Putin to stress that “such a step would be a gross contradiction of the Minsk agreement for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in east Ukraine and a unilateral breach of these deals from the Russian side”.

Scholz, whose country currently holds the presidency of the G7, also urged Putin to “immediately deescalate and withdraw the massed forces from the borders to Ukraine”.

“He stressed that it was now particularly important to observe the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and to set signs of detente,” according to a statement issued by the chancellery.

“Russia has a particular responsibility here,” he added.

With troops having allegedly crossed the border into Ukraine, there are fears that Putin is paving the way for a wider invasion. 

Western leaders have placed initial sanctions on Russia following the breach.

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Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits key pipeline’s inflow in Germany

A halt on Russian gas flowing through a key transit hub in eastern Ukraine has cut inflows via a key pipeline into Germany by a quarter compared to a day ago, official data showed Wednesday.

Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits key pipeline's inflow in Germany

The German government in Berlin however said that overall supplies to Germany were assured, as the affected “volumes are currently being offset by higher flows from Norway and the Netherlands”.

The affected pipeline travels through the Czech Republic and Slovakia and enters Germany via Waidhaus in Bavaria.

Germany is highly dependent on Russia for its gas supplies, with Russian supplies making up 55 percent of its imports before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Berlin has been battling to cut its reliance since, but has rejected an immediate full embargo on Russian gas.

In its daily energy situation report, it said the current level of its gas stocks was “significantly higher than in the spring of 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2021”.

READ ALSO: What would happen if Germany stopped accepting Russian gas