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Germany Warns Russia of 'Massive Damage' Over Crimea

Germany Warns of 'Massive Damage' to Russia Over Crimea Crisisi
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Henry Ridgwell
March 14, 2014 9:19 PM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Moscow that Europe could inflict 'massive economic,' political damage' to Russia if situation escalates in Ukrainian region of Crimea. Crimeans vote Sunday in a referendum on leaving Ukraine. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Germany Warns of 'Massive Damage' to Russia Over Crimea Crisis
Henry Ridgwell
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Moscow that Europe could inflict 'massive economic and political damage' to Russia if the situation in the Ukrainian region of Crimea escalates.

Germany now appears willing to use its diplomatic and economic muscle to turn up the heat on Moscow, analysts say. And they add that Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker, has been Europe's prime interlocutor with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Addressing lawmakers in Germany's parliament this week, Merkel issued the strongest threat yet to Moscow.

"If Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine,” she said Thursday. “We would see it, as neighbors of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union's relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically."

Merkel ruled out any military action. She dismissed Russia's claims that Crimea's bid to break away from Ukraine could be compared to Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Crimeans are set for a referendum on Sunday to decide to possibly join Russia.

"One thing has to be completely clear: The territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be put in question," Merkel said.

Merkel's hardline stance marks a departure from her previously cautious approach to Russia, said Professor Alan Riley, an expert on EU-Russia relations at City University in London.

"What we're seeing is a grave Western concern that President Putin may be willing to go a lot further,” she said. “Would we have some form of Afghanistan-style guerilla war in Europe, in the middle of the continent?"

At stake for Berlin are deep economic and trade links with Moscow. Russia says it would retaliate to any sanctions. Germany gets 40 percent of its gas from Russia. But Europe could quickly reduce that dependence and deprive Moscow of revenue, Riley said.

"Two-thirds of (Russian gas firm) Gazprom's revenue comes from the one-third of gas it produces that it sells into the European Union,” he said. “That's about 10 percent of federal tax revenue. If you cut off the lifelines of those large state companies or state-influenced companies from the Western capital markets, that would have an impact."

Putin will be gambling that the threats from Chancellor Merkel are just rhetoric, said risk analyst Elizabeth Stephens of insurance brokers Jardine Lloyd Thompson in London.

"If we go back to 2008 when Russia was involved with the war in Georgia, the West issued strong condemnation,” she said. “The following year the Americans announced a reset in relations with Russia, everything was supposed to move forward on a positive footing. So I think Putin can rest assured any sanctions that will be imposed will be very weak."

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by: George
March 16, 2014 2:18 AM
Yes it would be interesting to hear the stance on Syria where so many people have lost their lives, bearing in mind Russian support of the Syrian government has been very strong. Germany needs to be more forthright on condemnation of what has happened there and continues to happen on a daily basis.

by: Sweetbird from: United States
March 15, 2014 2:34 AM
Shame on Angela Merkel and Germany for listening to her. She's a traitor for going against Russia and putting all German businesses at risk losing Billions of $ she has no clues what she's doing. The German senate should go against her. Germany after WWII was punish by the west and now Germany wants to punish Russia. Merkel has no rights at all.

by: Robert from: Prague
March 15, 2014 12:55 AM
Putin is out of control. Tomorrow he can head his tanks to EU borders. Don't buy Russian gas!

by: Anonymous
March 14, 2014 3:53 PM
Putin needs an economic slap on all levels. He knew what he was doing when he sent thousands of troops and gunship helicopters to a place he had no business going and drawing a line in the sand of sand that does not belong to him.

All these threats to Russia are nothing, action must be taken to send Putin a stern warning that the world will not tolerate his irresponsible actions, and he best not try them in the future either.

This will send a strong message to the Russian people to get Putin the hell out of office. The Russian people should be fully aware of the path that "Putin" is taking Russia, somewhere Russian people DO NOT want to go...

He should be ousted by Russian people for his provocative acts, and besides that he should be investigated for his part in the Syrian Crisis, Chechnya, and Moscow Siege.

I think any International court would find him guilty. His crazy acts will get him nowhere but in to trouble.

by: Mike Simms from: Toronto
March 14, 2014 3:08 PM
How can you simply "dismiss" claims that Crimea breaking off from Ukraine is any different than Kosovo from Serbia? Isn't International Law supposed to be followed by everyone? Do the Western supporters simply get to pick and choose which laws will be followed and which countries can have territorial integrity? The last time I checked, Serbia was sovereign UN nation that wanted it's territorial integrity respected as well. Now there's a huge US army base in Kosovo. Based on that alone, I say good for Putin!
In Response

by: Gerald Lane Summers from: California
March 18, 2014 1:06 PM
The Kosovo War started in 1996 and ended with the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia; NATO had intervened to prevent widespread human rights abuses by Serb forces. Slobodan Milošević was overthrown in 2000. The U.S. did not invade these countries; NATO acted to stop the genocide with US support.
In Response

by: olga from: russia
March 14, 2014 8:17 PM
cant agree more! also good for Putin

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