German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Russia and Ukraine to reduce tensions over Crimea, amid what he said was contradictory evidence from the two countries of an alleged attack on the peninsula.
Germany is concerned about worsening security in Crimea and all sides “must refrain from anything that may lead to a further deterioration of the situation,” Steinmeier told reporters after talks with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov in Yekaterinburg yesterday.
There is still “no full clarity” about what happened “and we’re waiting for the results of investigations by the Russian and Ukrainian sides,” he said.
There is no need at this point for the “extreme measure” of breaking off diplomatic relations with Ukraine, Lavrov said.
It is important to stabilize the situation and “not give in to emotions,” though Russia is ready to provide “irrefutable evidence” that Ukraine planned attacks in Crimea to destabilize the peninsula, he said.
The talks took place after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened a “very serious” response last week when he accused Ukrainian agents of killing two Russian servicemen in Crimea, triggering the worst diplomatic standoff between the countries since last year’s Minsk truce deal eased hostilities in the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Russia bolstered its military forces in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
The EU said that there had been no independent confirmation of the killings.
Russia deployed S-400 Triumph air defense systems in Crimea, the Moscow-based RIA Novosti news service reported on Friday. Putin discussed bolstering Crimea’s defenses with his Security Council on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who spoke with US Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, has dismissed Russia’s accusations as “fiction” that could be an “excuse for further military threats” against his country.
He put the military on alert along the contact line with separatist forces and the frontier with the Black Sea territory, where Ukrainian military officials say Russian troops are reinforcing their positions.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last week that diplomatic ties with Ukraine might be cut after what he said was a Ukrainian incursion into Crimea, which he called a crime that needs to be investigated, the Interfax news service reported.
The Crimean crisis erupted as efforts to resolve the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have become stalled, Steinmeier said.
The Minsk accords remain in effect and still provide the best way to achieve peace, he said, amid a surge in violence in the area.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since