February 3, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Süddeutsche Zeitung, translated by Tom Winter (Note: many a Russian source writes about the second part of this article; Fort Russ finds the original) –
The tensions in the conflict with Russia are on the rise again. Berlin is watching with concern the action in the Donbass.
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday praised the closer economic relations between the two countries and at the same time were very concerned about the most recent reports from the eastern Ukraine.
Merkel observed that trade between Germany and Ukraine was growing; Most recently it has gone up almost 20 percent. Looking at the tension in Donbass in the east, she said that the situation on the so-called contact line between Ukrainian troops and militia of the pro-Russian separatists was “worrisome.” It is all the more important, then, to make progress on the basis of the Minsk Agreement, even if it is not easy, Merkel said.
Poroshenko expressed his gratitude for the German support and again blamed Moscow for a hybrid war against his country. The Ukrainian President said that Ukrainian soldiers had died on Sunday and Monday in conflict with the pro-Russian separatists. If, therefore, the efforts to resolve the conflict did not take precedence, sanctions against Russia should not only be extended but also tightened.
The basic view of the conflict has not changed either in Kiev or in Berlin. Kiev has long been demanding a harder line against Moscow. And Merkel is essentially in accord. Quite recently, former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier once again emphasized the responsibility for the crisis in Moscow and the separatists.
At the same time, however, the Federal Government is aware very precisely and with growing concern that the situation on the so-called contact line has not only intensified again, but that the Ukrainian side is also increasingly responsible. The tensions are increasing; most recently four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in firefights during the weekend.
According to Berlin’s information, which is based, among other things, on reports from the OSCE mission in the Eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military forces are currently trying to shift the frontline in their favor. Apparently, they also accept the fact that tensions are increasing, according to the Berlin government.
What is behind it? According to some in the German administration, it might also be a question of tightening the situation so that plans by US President Donald Trump to ease the sanctions could be stopped. According to Berlin’s interpretation, Poroshenko wants to do just about anything to prevent an end to the sanctions against Russia.
In the Federal Government, however, the concern is growing that Kiev’s calculus could be counterproductive. Thus, Trump could ease the sanctions independently of the situation at the contact line. And then Kiev would have double the damage: a situational improvement for Russia with simultaneous intensification of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine. Whether it is possible to dissuade Kiev from its own provocations, no one in Berlin would dare to predict.