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Elections

Ukraine's interim foreign minister advocates tougher Russia sanctions

Andriy Deshchytsia, Ukraine's interim foreign minister, has appealed for "preventative sanctions" against Russia in an interview in the German press. Deshchytsia will visit Berlin on Monday.

Ukraine's interim government called for a tougher stance from Germany, a prolific trading partner with Russia, in an interview with Saturday's edition of the newspaper Die Welt.

"If German politicians don't want to be responsible for the further destabilization of the region, then Berlin needs to take a harder line with Moscow," interim Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia told Die Welt. Deshchytsia is scheduled to visit Berlin on Monday for talks, including with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"I will talk with Mr. Steinmeier about how we can bring about stability in Ukraine," Deshchytsia said. The foreign minister called for sector-specific economic sanctions targeting areas like banking and decision-makers in Moscow. The US and EU currently say such a step is only likely if next Sunday's scheduled presidential elections in Ukraine are severely disrupted by the unrest.

"It is also important to impose preventative sanctions before Russia does even more damage," Deshchytsia said, adding that Germany should realize that "Russia will not stop at Luhansk and Donetsk." Western sanctions currently target individuals from Ukraine, and in some cases Russia, stopping short of any broader measures against commercial sectors. Business leaders in Germany have urged restraint on the sanctions front, pointing to their own booming exports to Russia, not just imports of oil and natural gas.

Kharkiv round table

Prior to Deshchytsia's trip to Germany, further peace talks are scheduled to start in Ukraine on Saturday. The second set of "round table" talks will take place in the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-most populous city. The city is the capital of Kharkiv province, which borders the flashpoint provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Deshchytsia said, however, that separatists from the two most troubled states should not be invited to the talks. One doesn't negotiate "with people who are armed and acting like terrorists," Deshchytsia said, similarly rejecting Moscow's representation at any such national unity talks.

"It is not the business of Russia, or other countries, to discuss the internal development of Ukraine," the 48-year-old interim foreign minister said.

The first round of these talks, moderated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, took place in the capital Kyiv on Wednesday. The UN and OSCE on Friday published a critical report on the human rights situation in the breakaway eastern regions of Ukraine, a paper with a "complete lack of objectivity," according to the Russian foreign ministry.

msh/mz (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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