Russia violates international law
The German government also condemns the signing of a treaty under which Crimea and Sevastopol will become part of the Russian Federation, said Steffen Seibert. "Like the Russian military intervention in Crimea that preceded it, this step is in breach of international law." This is a unilateral drawing of new borders, and thus a massive intervention in the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The German government will naturally not recognise this action of the Russian Federation.
Dangers for coexistence in Europe
"Russia has set off along an internationally isolated path," said the government spokesperson. It is a path that entails great risks for the coexistence of the states of Europe. The reports of deaths in Crimea in the wake of attacks on Ukrainian military facilities is further evidence of the explosive nature of this action. "We call for moderation on the part of Moscow and the leaders in the Kremlin."
Russia has proved itself to be no partner, endeavouring to help Ukraine achieve stability. Instead, it has ruthlessly exploited the crisis in the neighbouring country.
Association Agreement an important signal
On Thursday and Friday the European Council will be deliberating on its response to Russian actions, reported Steffen Seibert. During the Council meeting there are also plans to sign the political chapters of the Association Agreement between the EU, its member states and Ukraine. The German Cabinet approved the signing on Wednesday.
"We believe that this is an important signal of the EU’s support for Ukraine," underscored Steffen Seibert. It is, however, also a clear signal to Russia. "The EU does not accept moves to use economic, political and military pressure to influence the foreign-policy decisions of other states." The signing of the agreement with the EU does not, however, mean that Ukraine may not have close relations with other neighbouring states in future.
Over and above this, the European Commission is aiming to approve a unilateral easing of trade restrictions for Ukraine by mid-April. The trade-policy chapters of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement are to be signed at a later date.
Preventing the crisis spreading
In this new situation too, the priority must be to avoid any further escalation, said the government spokesperson. "If the crisis were to spread to eastern and southern Ukraine, the consequences could be dramatic." On Tuesday US President Barack Obama and the Chancellor agreed that they were willing to continue to take the path of political dialogue and understanding.
To this end a large OSCE observer mission must urgently be deployed, in particular in eastern and southern Ukraine, said Steffen Seibert. "We are working intensively to bring this about." It is most regrettable that Russia is continuing to delay any joint decision on the part of the OSCE.
No parallels to German reunification
The government spokesperson rejected as "quite astonishing" the comparison that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made, between the annexation of Crimea and German reunification. Germany has not forgotten that the then Soviet Union did not stand in the way of reunification. But, "German reunification brought two divided states together once again to form one nation. Russia’s intervention has split Ukraine."
German reunification was also monitored and supported in an exemplary way by the international community, through the 2+4 process. Moscow has consistently rejected all moves to set up a contact group with the aim of discussing the autonomy rights of Crimea. For these reasons the German government sees no parallels between the peaceful reunification of Germany and the events in Crimea.
G7 meeting planned in The Hague
Steffen Seibert confirmed that preparations are underway for a meeting of the G7 heads of state and government on the side-lines of the Nuclear Security Summit next weekend in The Hague. G7 leaders will be coordinating further actions. Steffen Seibert stressed, however that this meeting is not a summit meeting and is not intended to replace a summit meeting.