Merkel Puts on Putin ‘Full Blame’ for Russia – Ukraine Tensions in Azov Sea
The German leader has once again ruled out military solutions to the Russia – Ukraine conflict.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the recent incident in which Russia captured three Ukrainian military vessels off Crimea to be entirely the fault of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Merkel hosted on Thursday a conference in Berlin with Ukrainian officials, including Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
As she named Putin as the culprit for the spike in Russian – Ukrainian tensions in the Azov Sea, however, the German leader also ruled out any military solution to the crisis and the long-standing conflict between the two former Soviet states.
Earlier on Thursday, German daily Bild published an interview with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in which he called upon NATO to send warships to the Sea of Azov in order to fend off Putin’s alleged ambitions to occupy the sea and all of Ukraine.
Poroshenko also appealed personally to Merkel recalling her contribution to hammering out the Minsk II Agreement back in 2015 which essentially contained the escalation of the war with the pro-Russian forces in the region of Donbass in Eastern Ukraine.
“The full blame for this goes to the Russian president,” the German Chancellor stated in Berlin on Sunday’s incident near the Kerch Strait between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, as cited by DW.
“Now what I want is that the facts of what happened are put on the table, that the (crew) are released, and that no confessions are coerced like we have seen on television,” she emphasized.
Merkel vowed to press Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue at this week’s G-20 summit in Argentina.
“We ask the Ukrainian side too to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue,” she added.
Merkel also called on Russia not to block naval access to the Sea of Azov and the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol.
“We must do everything to help places like Mariupol, which depends upon access to the sea. We can’t allow this city to just be cut off, thus indirectly isolating further parts of Ukraine,” the German leader said, as cited by BBC World.
“I would like to find common ground with Russia again,” Merkel said, while als stressing that Germans “cannot close our eyes” to Moscow’s aggressive policies in Ukraine and other nations.
In her words, Russia’s moves serve to prevent those states from “developing in the way they want.”
A total of 24 Ukrainian servicemen remain in Russian custody after Sunday’s incident at the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula.
The clash led Ukraine to institute martial law in its regions bordering Russia and Moldova’s pro-Moscow breakaway region of Transnistria.
Ukraine and Russia have been involved in a “cold’ conflict since 2014, after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in reaction to the Euromaidan Revolution in Kyiv, which ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and promised to bring Ukraine closer to the West.
A pro-Russian insurgency possibly aided by Moscow followed shortly in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine and has been raging ever since. Because of Crimea’s annexation and the war in Eastern Ukraine, the EU has introduced sanctions against Russia.
(Banner image: Volodymy Groysman on Twitter)