News / Europe

    France, Germany Threaten New Sanctions Over Ukraine

    Pro-Russia rebels are seen walking in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2015.
    Pro-Russia rebels are seen walking in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2015.
    VOA News

    France and Germany have pressed again for respect for the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and withdrawal of heavy weaponry, threatening new costs if warring sides there don’t comply with last week’s truce deal.

    Speaking Friday to reporters in Paris, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that sanctions could be imposed if the Minsk agreement to stabilize Ukraine are not fully implemented and the cease-fire is not observed.            

    “With the [German] Chancellor we have never stopped speaking since the Minsk agreements and we are more convinced than ever that these agreements must be applied - all the agreements, nothing but the agreements -- meaning the cease-fire which is still under threat, which has been violated several times, notably at Debaltseve in these last few days - and which must now be fully observed across the line,'' said Hollande.

    Pro-Russian separatists question a man in the eastern Ukrainian city of Vuhlehirsk, six kilometers southwest of Debaltseve, Feb. 19, 2015.Pro-Russian separatists question a man in the eastern Ukrainian city of Vuhlehirsk, six kilometers southwest of Debaltseve, Feb. 19, 2015.
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    Pro-Russian separatists question a man in the eastern Ukrainian city of Vuhlehirsk, six kilometers southwest of Debaltseve, Feb. 19, 2015.
    Pro-Russian separatists question a man in the eastern Ukrainian city of Vuhlehirsk, six kilometers southwest of Debaltseve, Feb. 19, 2015.

    Any country that fails to respect the Minsk agreements risks sanctions, added Hollande.

    Hollande and Merkel mediated last week in Minsk between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin at talks that produced the latest truce agreement.

    The cease-fire went into effect last Saturday at midnight, but was violated almost immediately when rebels assaulted and took over Debaltseve, a key transport hub near Donetsk that had been largely controlled by Ukrainian government troops.

    Ukrainian military spokesman Anatoliy Stelmakh said Friday Russia is still moving military equipment into Ukraine, including tanks sent in the direction of Novoazovsk, a rebel-held town near Mariupol, a strategic port city.

    The White House said earlier this week that it is "crystal clear" that the separatists in eastern Ukraine and Russia are not living up to the latest cease-fire agreement and also warned of possible costs.

    “We believe that it is important for all sides to live up to [the Minsk] agreement. It is also crystal clear that Russia-backed separatists and Russia themselves have not lived up to their commitments that they made in the context of [the Minsk] negotiations,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

    Earnest added that the separatists and Moscow may incur “greater costs” and “should be mindful of that as they consider their next steps.”

    Russia has consistently denied it is supporting the rebels with hardware or manpower.

    UN concerned

    Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Office expressed grave concern at the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which it says is taking a heavy toll on civilians caught in the line of fire.  The agency also accused pro-Russian rebels of preventing European monitors access to Debaltseve, seized by the separatists in the last few days, despite a cease-fire.

    The U.N. Human Rights Office reports nearly 5,700 people have been killed and over 14,000 wounded since mid-April of last year.

    While these numbers are dramatic, Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville says they represent a very conservative estimate.

    "The Human Rights monitoring unit in Ukraine, our team and WHO who jointly gather these statistics believe the actual number may be considerably higher.  And, a further increase in those figures is anticipated in the coming days because the reporting of the casualties, especially military casualties - both during the pre-cease-fire period and especially in recent days in Debaltseve have been considerably delayed and we do not think we have anything like the full picture of casualties from Debaltseve," says Coleville.
     
    He says his agency remains deeply worried about the fate of civilians and captured or wounded Ukrainian servicemen in the Debaltseve area who were caught in the fighting.  

    The U.N. Human Rights Office is issuing a separate appeal on behalf of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has been detained in Moscow since last July.  It notes that she has been on a hunger strike for 70 days and that her condition is deteriorating.  It is calling on Russian authorities to release her on humanitarian grounds.

    Lisa Schlein contributed to this report from Geneva.

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    Comments page of 2
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    by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
    February 21, 2015 7:02 AM
    yes more solidarity and by the end of the conflict in Ukraine

    by: Dellstator from: US
    February 21, 2015 1:02 AM
    Merkel and Hollande are in a competition to out do Chamberlain, the chief architect of the appeasement that led to Hitlers rise, but, their empty threats of more lame sanctions is actually 1000% more than histories new great appeaser, Obama, is doing, since he is doing absolutely nothing, acting like Europe and the Ukraine don't exist. A man utterly and completely out of his depth facing up brute force. Political solution has been and remains Cold War Era Embargo - Trade, Banking, Travel, and the entire world sharing the hit of energy prices going back to $90 a barrel (when Eurozone contracts with Mid East, Africa for it's oil and gas).
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 21, 2015 10:58 AM
    Oh wow, thanks for trolling with random knowledge of history. Opinionated argument again, seems the forum is about creative writing.

    by: Matt from: Ukraine
    February 21, 2015 12:41 AM
    I believe the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. Sanctions aren't working, maybe try something different??!!
    In Response

    by: Paul
    February 21, 2015 10:57 AM
    Like giving up on Ukraine, let them sort their problem with Russians. I mean calling Putin evil is like David Cameron honest logically, I don't agree with that.

    by: John
    February 20, 2015 11:53 PM
    No one is taking western Europe seriously anymore. They can threaten as many times they like, it won't help Ukraine (only decisive actions will).
    In Response

    by: Dellstator from: US
    February 21, 2015 1:06 AM
    Heh, don't just hit on Europe, spread the blame to the US, who have so little trade with Russia you have to wonder why on earth a full Cold War Era Trade, Banking, Travel Embargo hasn't been declared. Fear that Eurozone will never lock out Russia and profit from our Embargo, simple solution, if they don't join it, then they loose any US military support for any problem, Russia or otherwise.

    by: Fido from: SF Bay Area
    February 20, 2015 11:42 PM
    Why does the UN even bother saying anything? Their words carry about as much weight as my gas after a Mexican dinner. They need to just stay in that big building the US pays for, and shut up, since they can't do anything about it.

    by: Anonymous from: United States
    February 20, 2015 10:25 PM
    We need to strike before Russia has all of its forces in ukraine, we need to stop appeasing this jerk and hang him out to dry.

    by: MEKELITA UKRI from: USA
    February 20, 2015 9:49 PM

    Fedjk Cabce
    Merkel, the glamorous GERMAN PM is a very bad negotiator .....she sold Ukraine to Russia....and now she pretends everything is ready for the cease Fire....Ms, Merkel the workd no longer trust you.....go back to Germany and stay there...The US and the EUROPEAN powers now need to arm Ukraine to their teeth..
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 21, 2015 1:10 AM
    Sure, arm them, proxy war to the hilt, all the while the Eurozone is providing 20% of Russian Military budget through their energy purchases. See something wrong here???? First a full Trade, Banking, Travel embargo along with defensive and construction support to hold the current lines and build anti tank ditches, walls, fences. Then if Russia pushes in with divisions of armor necessary to break the line, full NATO military intervention.
    In Response

    by: seth from: USA
    February 20, 2015 11:59 PM
    What would be the point of arming Ukraine, if you give farmers and miners guns there going to be still farmers and miners just with guns. And it wouldn't change a thing the reason why Ukraine is losing is because of corruption and bad battle tactics.

    by: Sidauctiy from: Canada
    February 20, 2015 9:47 PM
    One statement really stands out how much of a coward Hollande is
    >"Any country that fails to respect the Minsk agreements risks sanctions"

    So if Hollande wants to claim that Ukraine is violating the Minsk Accord, is he planning on sanctioning Ukraine? For being invaded and in getting in the way of Russia's war machine? Which France and Germany both helped arm with their offensive weapons? And both refuse to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons? The irony.....

    by: Anonymous
    February 20, 2015 8:02 PM
    Merkel and Hollande are either cowards, naive or willing to sacrifice Ukraine to appear to be peace prize candidates. They knew from the get go Putin would not stop his attacks, yet they trumpeted peace, preventing others from being free to help Ukraine. They are fools, worse, grey betray the Ukrainian people for their own selfish ends. Obama is no better. He hides behind the fig leaf peace promise as an excuse to do nothing. Harper and Cameron bark loudly but offer no bite.
    None of the sea" leaders" should be listened to. They say arming Ukraine would make the situation worse. For whom? For the Rebels? For Putin? For the rich Western Europeans? Certainly not for the Ukraines wanting to be free of Russia. It is long past time that the west either help or get out of the way. If they do not plan to be part of the solution, at least stop being part of the problem. Either arm Ukraine, and send troops or tell the Ukrainian people that we don't care and hey should just surrender. The worst we can do is exactly what we are doing, letting Putin do whatever he wants with no real cost.

    by: para commando from: United Kingdom
    February 20, 2015 3:07 PM
    Getting ridiculous now. Putin obviously don't want peace. Wish he did. But the time as come to give Putin the war he seeks.
    Forget $350 million or $1billion arm the Ukrainians with $50billion of advanced kit over 5 years. To defend there Territorial integrity.
    Funny thing is that before this all kicked off I did like Putin.
    In Response

    by: Forward Thinker from: Canada
    February 20, 2015 8:06 PM
    I agree, but if we are not going to help at least stop lying about it so the Ukrainians know where they stand. What naive cowardly fool we have leading the West
    Comments page of 2
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