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Lavrov; Merkel

German FDP politician hints at lifting sanctions against Russia

Christian Lindner, the leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), said Crimea must be considered part of Russia.

Published: August 31, 2017, 7:27 am

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    Berlin

    “We need to come out of the dead end … Something must be offered so that Putin can change his policy without a loss of face … To express a taboo: I fear that the Crimea must be regarded as a permanent provisional solution.”

    These words caused a sensation in Germany earlier this month. Lindner’s colleague Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, defended the comments.

    The US Congress’ latest round of sanctions was seen as a cynical attempt to position the US in the European energy market, especially directed against Nord Stream II, the planned natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel told an annual news conference in Berlin on Tuesday that a removal of sanctions on Russia would benefit the economy of both Germany as well as Russia. But the lifting of sanctions would depend on the outcome in Ukraine, she added.

    “As you said, that will be good for the Russian economy and for the German economy,” she told reporters. The Chancellor added that such removals can only happen once Ukraine has full control of the Donbass region again.

    “Sanctions will be removed when the reasons for them are no longer there. Economic sanctions were introduced over the situation in Ukraine – in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions – where Kiev does not have sovereignty over its own territory,” the German Chancellor said.

    “If we succeed in implementing the Minsk Agreements, then a possibility will emerge to lift sanctions,” she added.

    The ceasefire between government forces and autonomists was intended to come into force before the start of the new school year.

    The autonomists meanwhile accused Kiev of breaking the truce, saying the man killed by a Ukrainian sniper’s bullet had become the first victim of the ceasefire. On August 25, the Donbass republics’ defense officials reported new strikes across the territory.

    Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict since 2014. Merkel called for Russia “to do more” to end the fighting.

    A Rossiya 24 (Russia 24) television news crew meanwhile came under fire in Donbass by Ukraine’s Armed Forces in trying to report on the ceasefire. No one was injured, according to the TV channel.

    “Our crew has come under fire in Donbass, where ceasefire should be operating since last Friday. Military correspondent Alexander Sladkov was preparing a regular report on ceasefire violations today,” the report noted. No one was injured in the shelling, Sladkov said on Russia 24 live. “The fire was launched from the Ukrainian positions,” he said.

    Detained Russian journalist Anna Kurbatova abducted in Kiev, has been banned from entering Ukraine for three years.

    Channel 1, which is Russia’s state-run nationwide television channel, reported earlier in the day that its journalist Anna Kurbatova was abducted in Kiev on Wednesday. It is known that Anna Kurbatova, 29, has repeatedly received threats over her coverage of events in Ukraine, Rusian news agency TASS reported.

    At the sidelines of last month’s Munich Security Conference in Germany, Merkel complained about a possible Russian hacking of her country’s impending elections.

    But her unsubstantiated allegation against Russia did not go unchallenged. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, who was present at the conference, obliterated Merkel’s statement. Lavrov told her that it is a confirmed fact that the United States had tapped her phone conversations before and she did not seem to mind that much.

    Lavrov also reminded Merkel and other cohorts obsessed with “Russian hacking” of a leaked document which revealed how the CIA interfered with the 2012 French presidential elections, which brought Francois Hollande to power.

    “It was confirmed that top officials had had their phones tapped. And the other day there was a leak showing that the 2012 presidential election campaign in France coincided with cyber-espianage on the part of the CIA,” Lavrov said.

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