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BERLIN, April 30 /ITAR-TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday threatened Russia with further sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
Merkel, who was speaking in Berlin after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stressed that early presidential elections should be held in Ukraine on May 25, as scheduled by the de facto authorities.
“Only the Ukrainian population and no one else” may decide the country’s future “during just and free elections”, she said.
The German chancellor said her country and its partners “are using negotiating channels with Russia” in the conflict around Ukraine, but added that “there is a readiness to impose economic sanctions at the same time”.
“Should all this fail to bring results, we also should not fear the necessity of further sanctions,” Merkel said.
Abe said “all sides should speak for de-escalation of the situation”.
Western countries, including Japan, have imposed targeted sanctions on some Russian and Crimean officials following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March. Moscow has also imposed some targeted sanctions in response.
The West has already expanded its punitive measures against Russia since they were first imposed and has threatened Russia with new economic sanctions unless Moscow changes its foreign policy. Moscow has said the language of sanctions is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western nations.
Crimea, where most residents are Russians, struck an agreement to reunify with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February, when new people were propelled to power amid deadly riots as security concerns prompted President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the country.
Kiev and Western nations do not recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia despite Moscow's repeated statements that the Crimean plebiscite conformed to the international law.