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BERLIN, August 19. /TASS/. Crimea will never return to Ukraine again and sanctions will not change the situation, deputy leader of the Alternative for Germany party Alexander Gauland said in an interview with the Funke media group, published on Saturday.
"Crimea will never return to Ukraine, sanctions will not help," said Gauland, who is the top AfD candidate in September’s general election. According to him, "it would be right if Crimea was recognized part of Russia." "Mr. Lindner [leader of the Free Democratic Party Christian Lindner - TASS] has already understood it," the deputy leader of the Alternative for Germany party added.
Lindner earlier called for considering the Crimea issue separately from other problems. In his opinion, such approach may help achieve success in other aspects of relations between the European Union and Russia, but if that does not happen, sanctions could be toughened. Lindner’s statement sparked a broad debate in Germany.
"Russia is a power, we should involve it in building a new European order," he went on to say. "We should stop contrasting NATO and Russia," Gauland stressed.
After Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a coup in February 2014, mass protests began in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. On March 11, 2014, Crimea’s Supreme Council and Sevastopol City Council adopted a declaration of independence.
On March 16, 2014, a referendum on reuniting with Russia was conducted. Over 80% of voters participated in the plebiscite, most of them supporting the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol).
On March 18, the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia was signed by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Federal Assembly (parliament) approved the document on March 21.
Following these events, the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Moscow. Some of the Russian officials were barred from entering EU counties and the US, their assets were frozen. Besides that, trade, financial and military restrictions were also introduced. Sanctions have been repeatedly extended and expanded.