Germany blames Russia for east Ukraine tension

Germany points to 'strong evidence' of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.

Germany points to 'strong evidence' of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.

LONDON – German government on Monday blamed Russia for the instability in the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine where unidentified armed groups occupied some government buildings.

"There are strong indications that the armed groups who are active in eastern Ukraine received support from Russia," said Deputy Government Spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz. "When we look at the occurrence, uniformity and the arming of some of these groups, it is hard to believe they formed spontaneously from civilian self-defense forces."

Ukrainian media reported Sunday night that pro-Russia demonstrations broke out and buildings stormed in the southern cities Mariupol and Odessa.

Previously on Saturday, 20-30 men in Russian-made military fatigues, armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles and stun grenades, took control of the district police headquarters in Slovyansk, 130km from the Donbass regional capital, Donetsk. 

The West has repeatedly accused Moscow of planning an invasion of Ukraine after Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula last month.

- EU approves aid to Ukraine

In another development, top diplomats from the EU countries approved on Monday an aid package of $1 billion for Ukraine to help the country overcome its financial problems.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers also endorsed a plan to lower customs duties on Ukrainian goods in a move expected to generate around $500 million a year for the country.

“This decision not only expresses our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. It also shows that the EU is willing and capable to take immediate steps to improve the situation of our Eastern neighbors,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said in a statement from the European Commission.

- UK to press for a "firm and united response" 

Earlier on Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. would press for a "firm and united response" regarding the Ukraine crisis at Monday's EU meeting in Luxembourg.

 Cameron discussed the deteriorating situation in Ukraine with Foreign Secretary William Hague according to Number 10 Press Office, and writing from his official Twitter account William Hague said, "Vital EU signals Russia's responsibility to stop undermining Ukraine."

Other British officials also pointed to direct Russian involvement in the tension in Ukraine.

"Assumptions that Russia is complicit are inevitable as long as Moscow does not publicly distance itself from these latest lawless actions," a British Foreign Office spokesperson said Sunday. "Russia must desist from steps which destabilise Ukraine and undermine the possibility of contact group talks."

British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate, Edward Davey, said in an interview with the Independent newspaper that the country must take Russia’s threats to shut down gas pipelies in Ukraine “much more seriously.” 

"I think it is of sufficient concern that we need to plan seriously and deeply with our partners – with the Americans, the Japanese and with our European and international partners,” Davey said.

“If there was disruption to gas supplies in Europe, that would impact on gas prices and we would be hit by that. Moreover, because it would affect supplies to key partners within the European Union – such as Bulgaria, Italy and Germany which get a lot of their gas from Russia – that could have an economic impact on us as well,” he said.

After the referendum in Crimea, the U.K. made a call for imposing further sanctions against Russia. In addition, Britain has suspended all arms exports to Russia last month amid fears of military escalation in Ukraine.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency