2014-12-07 18:41:00

German Chancellor speaks of Russian interference in Eastern Europe

(Vatican Radio)Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has accused Russia of violating Ukraine's territorial integrity and interfering in the affairs of Eastern European countries seeking closer ties with the European Union.  In an interview in Germany's Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russia was "creating problems" for the former Soviet republics Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. She warned that Russia's violation of "the territorial integrity... of Ukraine must not be allowed to stand". 

Listen to this report by Stefan Bos

Merkel mentioned Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine as they have signed trade deals with the European Union.

Russia is suspicious of the association agreements. Russia wants to draw republics that were once part of the Soviet Union into its own customs union.

Angela Merkel also rejected criticisms of her Russia policy made by her two predecessors as German chancellor. 

Fellow Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl, who left office in 1998, and Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder, whose job she took in 2005, say Germany's policies only isolate Russia and that sanctions hurt both Russian and European interests.  

Yet Merkel said she is convinced that the collective European response to Russia is the right answer. 

She also lashed out at EU member-states France and Italy saying the two countries attempts to reduce their deficits were “insufficient.” Yet, Germany will need their support in its policies towards Russia. 

Merkel noted that Russia had in her words "broken its guarantees in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 which guaranteed the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine." 

That, she stressed, "must not be without consequences."

It was reference to the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. 

The West has also accused Russia of sending military hardware and troops to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, charges Moscow denies. 

Additionally, Kiev has condemned Russia for interrupting natural-gas supplies to Ukraine, which is now facing country-wide mass electricity cuts.    As the war impacted deliveries of coal, Kiev turned to South Africa to boost supplies. 

But the imported coal proved to be unfit for the purpose. 

That prompted Ukraine's authorities to detain the head of a Ukrainian state energy firm on suspicion of embezzlement in relation to the deal.


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