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Germany says both Russia, Ukraine must work to de-escalate conflicts

Kitco News

KIEV (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday urged both Russia and Ukraine to do their part to de-escalate conflicts in eastern Ukraine and in the Sea of Azov, where Russia seized three Ukrainian navy vessels and their crew in November.

Maas, speaking in Kiev after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin, also said Russia must permanently ensure the freedom of passage through the Kerch Strait off the coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

“All sides must contribute to the de-escalation of the conflicts,” said Maas, who met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier in Moscow. He said Lavrov affirmed Moscow’s pledge to continue shipments of natural gas through Ukraine despite work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Caroline Copley

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