Sergei Lavrov and Frank-Walter Steinmeier “expressed concern about the continuing clashes and agreed that the situation must be de-escalated urgently, the violence should be stopped in order to avoid further fatalities and favorable conditions should be created for a truly comprehensive national dialogue on constitutional reform,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The parties also spoke about the importance of roundtable discussions, taking into account that the interests of the country’s southeastern regions must be duly represented,” it said.
Lavrov pointed out that Kiev must stop using force against protesters as the April 17 Geneva statement requires, and commended the role of the OSCE’s special monitoring mission in areas of confrontation in promoting accords on the content and sequence of practical steps to ease tensions.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier believes the West should cooperate with, not confront, Russia over Ukraine.
Cooperation with Moscow is crucial in many important issues, including a peace settlement in Syria, Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear program, he said in an interview with the Die Thüringischen Landeszeitung newspaper.
Of late, Steinmeier has been criticized by conservative-minded CDU/CSU politicians and SDPG representatives, who are displeased with his department’s attitude towards Russia amid the crisis in Ukraine and would like it to see it coordinating its actions more closely with other European Union member states. Some argue that Germany doesn’t take proper account of Russia’s interests.
Steinmeier acknowledged in the interview that he saw no clear strategy that could guarantee success but expressed confidence that the conflict in Ukraine could and must be resolved peacefully, promising to do all in his power to achieve that.
The Ukrainian crisis won’t disappear with the wave of a magic wand, the minister said. He fears that if no peaceful solution is found, the further escalation of the crisis might cause a new split in Europe.
Speaking about sanctions, Steinmeier warned that they might hit weaker European economies. Those calling for economic sanctions should know that “we will all have to bear the costs,” he said.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine will probably stay away from the Ukrainian presidential election, scheduled for May 25. But that’s the free choice of their residents, which has nothing to do with Russia, said Chairman of the Russian State Duma International Relations Committee, Alexei Pushkov on television on Saturday.
“There will be an election in Ukraine. The question is, however, whether Donetsk and Lugansk will participate in it. Evidently not but that’s got nothing to with Russia. It’s the free choice of the population of those regions. I hope that after the election, more pragmatic politicians will come to power in Kiev, who will realize that the problems facing Ukraine cannot be solved without Russia,” Pushkov said.
After the election, Kiev will have to start thinking about cooperation with Moscow on a whole set of issues. “The price of gas, the export of Ukrainian goods, the tariffs, the contracts needed to keep lots of Ukrainian industries running… They will have to discuss all those issues with us. Without Russia, and this is acknowledged both in Germany and France, there is no solving the Ukrainian crisis.”
Whoever becomes Ukraine’s future president, after he fully acts out his campaign script and says all the rhetorical things he needs to say, he will have to ponder on how Ukraine should move forward, Pushkov said.
“Yanukovych is Ukraine’s sole legitimate president but he failed to keep the situation under control and actually let Ukraine fall into the hands of forces ripping it apart. As always, he offered guarantees and, as always, failed to fulfill them,” the lawmaker said.
Yanukovych did not flee his country, he was in Kharkov during his so-called “removal from power” and went on television, saying that all that had happened in the Verkhovna Rada was a coup, Pushkov remarked.
Speaking about the May 2 tragedy in Odessa, Pushkov said that he doubted that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was capable of conducting an unbiased investigation and cautioned PACE deputies against unilateral assessments of the Odessa events, based on unreliable materials provided by Kiev.