Germany sees 'signs' Russia backing militias in Ukraine
Germany said Monday there are many signs Russia is backing pro-Kremlin militias who have seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine, including the arms, uniforms and appearance of their members.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokeswoman said Berlin "is worried about the further aggravation of the situation in the east of Ukraine", and that Merkel had discussed the issue with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.
"There are many signs that the armed groups active in eastern Ukraine are receiving support from Russia," the spokeswoman said.
"A look at the appearance, uniforms and weaponry of some of these groups hardly suggests that they are defence forces spontaneously formed by civilians."
Germany sees Russia as having "a particular responsibility to prevent a further escalation, and to contribute to stabilising the situation in Ukraine," said Merkel's spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz.
"This includes withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, lowering gas prices and using moderate language. It must be clear that violence is not an option for resolving disputes, and this also goes for Russia."
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel -- at an event commemorating World War I with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls -- warned of resurgent nationalist forces both within Europe and "in its neighbourhood".
Gabriel said that good news several months ago from Ukraine -- including an end to bloody violence against protesters -- had since given way to "an ongoing military confrontation" and the realisation that "Russia is apparently willing to let tanks cross European borders".
"Suddenly, we are being dragged from the observer's position into a long smouldering and incendiary conflict, which is also demanding a price from Europe in the form of sanctions against Russia," he said.
© 2014 AFP