Kiev / Moscow / Berlin (dpa) – Shortly before a conference of EU foreign ministers on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, there are no signs of relaxation.
Russia and Ukraine expelled each other’s diplomats on Saturday. Russian domestic intelligence had previously temporarily arrested the Ukrainian consul in St. Petersburg on suspicion of espionage. Moscow sent warships into the Black Sea for a maneuver. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer accused Russia of “directly and specifically” endangering security in Europe.
“Russian armaments and its warfare in central Europe have created real threats,” said the CDU politician. “Anyone who points it out is not anti-Russian. Anyone who points this out is tackling an important political fact and is taking active precautions for our country and for Europe. “The EU foreign ministers want to hold a video conference on Monday to discuss the situation.
Kramp-Karrenbauer saw the movement of troops as a deliberate provocation. “Unfortunately, the Russian approach is not suitable for building confidence, but is clearly intended to provoke reactions.” Moscow had talked about a military exercise. The CDU politician also praised Ukraine’s sober response.
The Federal Government’s Commissioner for Russia, Johann Saathoff, demanded transparency from the Kremlin. “What is currently happening on the border with Ukraine is apparently the largest Russian troop movement since the annexation of Crimea,” said the Ostfriesen-Zeitung SPD politician in view of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called on all concerned to exercise restraint. Secretary General Helga Schmid warned of further escalation. The organization itself is also a target: recently nine out of ten flights of OSCE observation drones in the conflict zone were electronically disrupted.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, demanded in the “Welt am Sonntag” that the federal government issue a “clear public warning” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. She must describe all the painful consequences of a new military invasion.
On Saturday, the Russian Navy reported that more than 15 warships had passed the Kerch Strait on the Crimean peninsula. How long they stay in the Black Sea was not stated. Previously, following complaints from Russia, the US had canceled the shipment of two warships, according to Turkish information.
Meanwhile, another case created even more tension: the arrest of the Ukrainian consul in St. Petersburg. The FSB domestic secret service accuses him of obtaining confidential information from a Russian. He must now leave Russia on Thursday. In return, Kiev expelled a “high” Russian official.
Both countries hold each other responsible for the new tensions. The head of the Ukrainian military operation, Sergei Najew, said he did not expect another war. “We do not see any preparations for an attack,” he said on Ukrainian television. “In military language we speak of a demonstration of strength.”