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Russia, Germany discuss possible Normandy Four talks after Crimea events

Lavrov says Russia has irrefutable evidence that Ukraine’s authorities had planned the act of sabotage for a long time
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier  EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier

YEKATERINBURG, August 15. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his talks with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday discussed the possibility of restoring dialogue in the Normandy format in the wake of the recently foiled terrorist attacks in Crimea.

"We assessed the prospects and possibilities of resuming dialogue in the Normandy format," Lavrov said adding that the recent intrusion attempt in Crimea by Ukrainian saboteurs could not but have affected the talks.

Lavrov said Russia has irrefutable evidence that Ukraine’s authorities had planned the act of sabotage for a long time with the goal of destabilizing the situation in Crimea.

"We have something in addition to what you see on television, the irrefutable evidence that this was the act of sabotage that had been planned for a long time by the Main Intelligence Department of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and had the goal of destabilizing the situation in Russia’s Crimea," he stressed.

Moscow "is ready to give additional facts to its Western partners who are seriously interested that this is not repeated," Lavrov said, insisting that the West should "exert influence on Kiev."

Russia is taking extensive measures to prevent further sabotage attempts in Crimea, he said.

"Regardless of how our partners will be working with their friends in Kiev, we are following the President's orders to take extensive measures to eradicate all such attempts to infiltrate our territory," Lavrov said, adding that he appreciates "Germany’s interest that such incidents must not happen again."

Lavrov said he discussed with Steinmeier the need to stop provocations in the conflict zone, draw up the ways of settlement through strengthening security, increasing control of the OSCE mission in the security zone and heavy weapons storage facilities and also the issue of how to promote the direct dialogue of Kiev with the Donetsk and Lugansk representatives.

Russia is not interested in severing diplomatic relations with Ukraine

"I don’t think we are in a situation where somebody is interested in severing diplomatic relations," Lavrov said. "It would be an extreme measure. It is essential not to succumb to emotions and not opt for some extreme actions, but to display reserve and concentration to achieve stabilization."

"I’m for focusing on efforts to return the situation in all of its aspects - those of security and political settlement - to the sequence and essence of the Minsk Accords," Lavrov said. "It’s not about Crimea, it’s about the east of Ukraine."

Lavrov said that Germany and Steinmeier personally had done a great deal for the sake of achieving the implementation of Minsk-2.

"At the Normandy Quartet’s summit there has emerged such a term as the ‘Steinmeier formula’. Frank-Walter invented it for identifying practical and universally acceptable ways of implementing the task set in the Minsk Accords to grant a special status to Donbass," Lavrov said.

"We actively supported that," Lavrov said. "But the authorities in Kiev have now hindered the implementation of the ‘Steinmeier formula’. They wish to revise the Minsk Accords once again."

Gemany expects investigation into the Crimean events

The German top diplomat said Germany expects Russia and Ukraine to investigate the recent incident in Crimea.

"In the course of our meeting we discussed Ukraine, too," Steinmeier said. "It is for two years now that we have been trying to achieve a solution of that conflict within the framework of the Normandy format. We spend weeks negotiating a framework agreement on the disengagement of conflicting parties. Regrettably, we’re stalled."

"In recent days there occurred a worsening of the situation in Crimea. We find this very worrisome," he went on to say. "We don’t have the full clarity regarding those events. We expect the Ukrainian and Russian side to investigate them," he said.

Information available at this point is conflicting, he said.

"It is essential to ensure the situation should not go out of control," Steinmeier said.

The Crimean events

Russia’s Federal Security Service FSB on August said it had detained a group of saboteurs in Crimea and prevented a number of terrorist attacks plotted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence department. The FSB said saboteurs were targeting crucial infrastructures. Two Russian military servicemen were killed in the operation to detain terrorists. Criminal cases were opened.

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the Ukrainian secret services’ attempt at sabotage in Crimea as "silly and criminal". The real aim, he said, was to distract attention from Ukraine’s domestic problems and the authorities, who were robbing their own people. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has dismissed Moscow’s charges. He argues the detention of saboteurs was a provocation.