German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will stand by EU states who face Russian aggression
KIEV – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that
Europe was ready to stand by former Soviet republics in the face of
possible Russian aggression.
Whether it is Moldova or Georgia, "we will show them solidarity,"
Merkel told the German parliament.
Like Ukraine, Moldova has come under pressure from Russia to abandon
an association agreement it has negotiated with the European Union.
Russia went to war with Georgia in 2008 over the break-away
territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Merkel reiterated her position that Russian intervention in the
Ukrainian territory of Crimea "was a breach of international law".
Western powers have said they would not recognize the outcome of a
referendum on joining Russia that Crimea will hold at the weekend.
Merkel warned Russia that it would harm itself if it failed to agree
to steps to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
"In a period of enormous uncertainty in the Ukraine, Russia has not
proven to be a partner for stability for neighbouring countries which
it has close links to but it uses their inherent weaknesses," Merkel
said. "The territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be overridden."
"Political and diplomatic efforts are the only way out of the
conflict," she added.
The Russian army continued exercises close to Ukraine's eastern
borders. Some 4,000 paratroopers, 36 airplanes and 500 armoured
vehicles took part in drills in four regions, three of which border
Ukraine, Itar-Tass news agency reported, citing defence officials.
Photos and videos published by local media in Russia's Belgorod
region showed columns of airborne infantry vehicles and military
trucks moving through the region, which borders Ukraine's Kharkiv