Merkel promises to discuss release of Ukrainian sailors with Putin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Ukraine of solidarity in the conflict with Russia and promised to discuss the issue of respecting the rights of Ukraine in the Kerch Strait with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in the capital of Argentina, Deutsche Welle reports.

According to Merkel, Kyiv should “act smart.” She noted that it would be impossible to solving the Ukrainian-Russian conflict by military means. "The conflict in Ukraine can be solved through dialogue only,” she said. At the same time, she accused Moscow of deliberately seeking to close access to Mariupol and other Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait.

"There is a belt of countries [along Russian borders] that cannot develop the way they want to. We Germans cannot turn a blind eye to it,” she said while also recalling Russian actions in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Chancellor also blames the Kremlin for the worsening navigation conditions in the Kerch Strait after Russia built the bridge over it. "This is totally the Russian President’s fault,” she stressed. Merkel called on Russia to release the captured Ukrainian military sailors and to return the seized ships. 

Merkel also confirmed readiness to continue negotiations on the settlement of the Ukrainian issue in the Normandy format. At the same time, she recognized that the success of consultations by Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia are now "very insignificant."

Speaking about the construction of Nord Stream 2, which Kyiv strongly opposes, Merkel stated that Ukraine should continue to be a gas transit country.

Earlier, Putin and Merkel held a telephone conversation during which they discussed the conflict situation in the Kerch Strait. The Russian President threw blamed Ukraine for it, while and Merkel called for de-escalation. 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who condemned escalation and Russia’s aggressive actions and promised to discuss this issue with Putin in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, Poroshenko stated that he also expects support from the USA at the G20 Summit. He called on Russia to stay away from Ukraine and expressed hope that US President Donald Trump would also urge the Russian President to do so. Poroshenko suggested that one possible way to support Ukraine was for NATO to send warships into the Black Sea.

  Merkel, Ukraine, Europe, G20, Poroshenko, Erdoğan, Putin