BERLIN, March 28. /TASS/. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has criticized the Angela Merkel Government’s policy regarding Russia in the situation over Ukraine.
Schroeder said the West made a mistake when it started attempts to isolate Russia on the international arena. "It is during a crisis that dialogue should be maintained," he said.
The ex-chancellor also told Der Spiegel weekly news magazine that Berlin should have prevented the European Commission from "holding talks on Ukraine’s association with the EU solely with Kiev without involvement of Moscow."
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New large-scale punitive measures against Russia followed in September and December 2014.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in east Ukraine.