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Merkel stresses need to avoid further escalation of Ukraine crisis

January 26, 2015, 0:08 UTC+3 BERLIN
During the conversation with Putin, Merkel called for the need to “avoid a new escalation” and urged Moscow to “use its influence insistently” on the self-defence militias in Ukraine
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BERLIN, January 25. /TASS/. Amid the escalating situation in southeastern Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday, the German government’s official spokesman said.

During the conversation with Putin, Merkel called for the need to “avoid a new escalation” and urged Moscow to “use its influence insistently” on the self-defence militias in Ukraine, spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The Kremlin press service confirmed that the phone conversation took place.

Merkel told Poroshenko that the Mariupol shelling on Saturday, which killed at least 30 civilians, is “an unequivocal violation of the ceasefire regime which cannot be justified by anything.”

“There is a need to do everything to achieve a peaceful solution and the implementation of the Minsk agreements signed in September,” Seibert quoted Merkel as saying.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a phone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini earlier on Sunday that there could have been no tragedies in Volnovakha, Donetsk and Mariupol if Kiev had accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal on January 15.

In his letter to Poroshenko, Putin proposed the withdrawal of heavy weaponry to the line which Kiev earlier believed to be “fair” and this was agreed in the Minsk memorandum on September 19.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in recent days Russia has consistently made efforts to mediate the conflict. However, the Ukrainian side regrettably turned down the plan and proposed nothing instead.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Yuri Biryukov said earlier that the Ukrainian military received orders to open massive fire on the positions of the militias in the military operation zone in the country's east.

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