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Home News Germany’s Steinmeier warns situation in Ukraine turning ‘fragile’

Germany’s Steinmeier warns situation in Ukraine turning ‘fragile’

Published on 29/05/2015

Germany's foreign minister warned on Friday that the situation in Ukraine's separatist east was turning more "fragile" and that negotiators must focus their efforts on averting further deterioration.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew into Kiev just days before Ukraine’s Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko’s personal envoy meets pro-Russian negotiators in the Belarussian capital Minsk for talks aimed at salvaging a February ceasefire agreement.

That deal — reached during marathon talks involving the leaders of Germany and France as well as Poroshenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — marked the sides’ second attempt at halting a 13-month war that has killed 6,300 and plunged East-West relations to a post-Cold War low.

The February truce has helped contain the fighting but failed to put an end to daily clashes around some of the most disputed hotspots.

“The situation in east Ukraine is once again becoming fragile,” Steinmeier told reporters after talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Germany’s top diplomat said the sides must now consider “all options” to avoid even further deterioration of the security situation in the conflict zone.

Steinmeier said he had been briefed on the violence by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — a Cold War-era security group that is also helping mediate the peace talks.

Yatsenyuk in turn blamed the Kremlin for what have recently turned into nightly clashes near the strategic government-held port of Mariupol and the Donetsk International Airport — captured by the insurgents after months of attacks at the start of the year.

“Russia is categorically refusing to allow Ukraine to restore control over its national border,” Yatsenyuk said.

“Russia’s (claim) that Ukraine and the West are supposedly failing to fulfil the Minsk agreements are completely groundless,” said Yatsenyuk.

“They are lying — just like they always do.”

Putin denies supporting the rebels with Russian forces and heavy weapons that outmatch those available to Ukraine.

But Ukraine this month captured two fighters in the east who identified themselves as active members of the Russian armed forces who were ordered to perform special reconnaissance missions in Ukraine.

Putin argues that Russians fighting alongside the Ukrainian militants are either “volunteers” or off duty soldiers who personally decided to join the war.

Steinmeier is due to meet Poroshenko later on Friday for talks expected to focus on Ukraine’s severe economic problems.