Merkel Urges More Russian Action to Halt Ukraine Fighting
by VOA News May 10, 2015
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia Sunday to do more to urge pro-Russian separatists to abide by a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and end fighting with Kyiv's forces.
'Unfortunately we still do not have a cease-fire today,' the German leader said after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was in Moscow to pay tribute to Russian troops killed in World War Two, the only prominent European leader to visit over the weekend to mark the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany.
Merkel said that in Ukraine there have been 'a lot of violations (of the cease-fire) on the part of the separatists.' She called Moscow's annexation last year of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula a 'severe setback' to German-Russian relations and described it as 'a violation of the basis of the common peaceful order of Europe.'
Putin said Kyiv's forces were as much to blame for violations of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine as the separatists. But he said, 'Despite all the problems in eastern Ukraine it has become calmer.'
The Russian leader said Russia would 'bring to bear all the influence we have' on the separatists to end the fighting, which has now extended more than a year and killed more than 6,100 people.
Earlier this month, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged Russia to fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreement, which calls for a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine and a de-escalation of military involvement.
The Minsk agreement calls for the withdrawal of all heavy weapons and foreign fighters from eastern Ukraine, the release of all prisoners in Russian custody, and allowing Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe election monitors to begin preparations for local elections.
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