Ukraine diplomatic solution possible: Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday she was convinced the Ukraine conflict and the West's standoff with Russia could be resolved diplomatically, although this will require patience.
"We will need staying power, but I am convinced that we can do it, that we must do it," said Merkel, who has been in frequent contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the crisis.
"That's the lesson of history and the message of today's Europe."
The German leader reiterated that "there is no military solution to the crisis, and all diplomatic efforts must be made to reach a solution".
"And I can promise you that I, together with the foreign minister (Frank-Walter Steinmeier), will miss no opportunity in which we will again and again seek a diplomatic solution."
Addressing a convention of her conservative party, Merkel said "what has been happening in Ukraine for months has thrown into question the peaceful order of Europe".
"Russia has violated, and continues to violate, international law. Neighbours are no longer partners but spheres of influence."
As Merkel spoke, a ceasefire appeared to be largely holding along the frontline in the ex-Soviet republic's war-shattered east, but planned peace talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk had been delayed.
The German chancellor reiterated that Western sanctions against Russia are "not an end in themselves, but are applied when they are unavoidable".
"Our goal is a territorially intact Ukraine which can freely and independently determine its own future."
Although the path there would be difficult, "we will help you and support you," she said, turning to a guest at the party meeting, pro-Western Ukrainian politician and former boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko.
© 2014 AFP