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Ukraine crisis

An unlawful vote

The German government will not recognise the unlawful vote held in parts of eastern Ukraine. EU partners are unanimous on this point, announced federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert at today’s government press conference.

The government spokesperson explained that this is because the action was unlawful. “These so-called ‘elections’ breach both the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol and were not held in compliance with Ukrainian law or the Ukrainian constitution,” he said.

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is currently in Indonesia, expressed similar views. “The Minsk Protocol must be the guideline and benchmark for all efforts to defuse the conflict.” Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must not be violated.

The central government of Ukraine plans to hold municipal elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on 7 December 2014. The separatists who currently exercise power there held elections in the self-proclaimed "republics" on 2 November.

For the European Union, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said yesterday evening that the EU will not accept either the vote or the results thereof.

“Elections” with no legal impact

According to the government spokesperson the so-called elections have “no legal relevance” and cannot thus do anything to stabilise the situation or reinforce Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “Quite the reverse is true: they further aggravate the crisis.”

As far as can be ascertained at present, the conduct of the voting in Donetsk and Luhansk would appear to have been “extremely questionable” said the spokesperson. There have been reports of a lack of electoral lists, and the constituencies were allegedly not clearly identified. Figures given in some cases for turn-out exceed the population still living in the area occupied by pro-Russian separatists in the wake of fighting.

Questionable understanding of democracy

In some cases the results of the voting were announced before the votes had been counted, “which reveals a very unusual understanding of democracy”, criticised Steffen Seibert. The fact that official sources in Russia respect or recognise the vote is quite incomprehensible. “This contradicts the efforts to improve the situation in the Ukraine through the implementation of the Minsk Protocol signed on 5 September this year,” he said unequivocally.

“We very much regret the developments that this weekend has seen, because the way these so-called elections have been held are clearly no way to bring peace and stability to eastern Ukraine.”

Russia urgently called on

The “German government’s urgent call to Russia” to do everything in its power to have the Minsk Protocol implemented and to realise an immediate ceasefire thus remains valid, said Steffen Seibert. The conflict must be ended, respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Steffen Seibert said that reports of renewed movements of combatants and weapons from Russia towards Luhansk and Donetsk “must obviously be monitored extremely closely. This is a concern.”

Sanctions remain in force

As for sanctions, Germany will have to “monitor the situation further with its European partners”. The new sending of a Russian convoy without the prior approval of Kyiv is an action “which precludes any early lifting of sanctions already in place – at least at this moment in time”.

The spokesperson warned that, “If the situation deteriorates it might even be necessary to consider tightening sanctions.” A decision will be taken with Germany’s European partners.

Monday, 3 November 2014

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