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BERLIN, March 31./ITAR-TASS/. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday called on the world community to prevent a return to the cold war in Europe due to the Ukrainian crisis.
“We should not return to the cold war in the 21st century. But this is not ruled out yet,” Steinmeier said in Berlin.
Steinmeier met today with his French and Polish counterparts Laurent Fabius and Radoslaw Sikorski in the format of the Weimar Triangle - a three-party political grouping of Germany, France and Poland. The foreign ministerial talks are to be resumed in Weimar, Germany.
Ukraine is in political turmoil. Violent anti-government protests, which started in November 2013 when the country suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, resulted in a coup in February 2014. President Viktor Yanukovych had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns last month.
The crisis deepened when the Republic of Crimea, which does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, signed a treaty with the Russian Federation to become its constituent member on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Russia considers Yanukovych Ukraine’s legitimate leader and does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership. However, the leaders of Western countries consider the new Ukrainian authorities legitimate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the Crimean referendum was in full conformity with the international law and the UN Charter, and also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008.
Despite that, Ukraine’s new authorities and the West have denounced the Crimean plebiscite claiming it was illegal, and have refused to recognize Crimea part of Russia. Western countries even moved further, imposing sanctions on some Russian officials, but Moscow responded tit for tat.