KYIV (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday that she hoped mounting tensions with Russia over Ukraine could be solved by diplomacy, but she warned that Moscow would suffer if it does attack the country.
“Each further aggressive act will have a high price for Russia, economically, strategically, politically,” Baerbock, in Kyiv on a trip that will next take her to Moscow, told a joint news conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
“Diplomacy is the only way.”
Talks between Moscow and Western states on Russia’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border ended with no breakthrough last week. A cyber attack against Ukraine has further inflamed tensions.
Kuleba said Ukraine and Germany were united in pushing to revive four-way peace talks on ending the war in eastern Ukraine in the so-called “Normandy” format, which includes Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.
Excluded from much of last week’s talks, Ukraine has repeatedly sought and received reassurances from allies that no decisions would be taken about its future without its involvement and assent.
“It is important for us now that neither Berlin nor Paris makes any decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, and does not play any game behind our backs in relations with Russia. This is the key now,” Kuleba said at the briefing.
“For this I want to thank Annalena for taking such a principled position.”
Germany has supported Ukraine with aid and diplomatic backing in its standoff with Moscow since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula and backed separatists in the Donbass region in 2014.
But there are points of contention. Ukraine opposes Nord Stream 2, a pipeline, yet to open, that would ship Russian gas to Germany, circumventing transit through Ukraine. Baerbock said the pipeline was now on hold and did not comply with European energy law.
Kyiv has also bristled at Berlin’s refusal to sell weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany called the decision “very frustrating and bitter” in an interview with German media ahead of Baerbock’s visit.
(Reporting by Alexander Ratz, Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets and Emma Thomasson; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Peter Graff)
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