BERLIN, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday said that federalization of Ukraine was the only viable solution to the crisis that has engulfed this East European country.
Speaking in an interview with the German weekly Welt am Sonntag, Sigmar Gabriel said that, “A smart concept of federalization seems to me the only viable solution.”
Gabriel, who also serves as Germany’s minister for economic affairs and energy, added that “an offer” has to be made to those regions in Ukraine where populations are predominantly ethnic Russian.
“Ukraine’s territorial integrity can only be preserved if an offer is made to regions with majority Russian population,” he stressed in an interview to appear on Sunday.
The vice chancellor said that Germany’s ultimate goal in Ukraine was “to prevent by any possible means a direct military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia.”
Excerpts from this interview appeared in the weekly hours before Chancellor Merkel’s official visit to Kiev on Saturday.
Ukraine’s southeast has been under fire since mid-April, when Kiev launched a special military operation aimed at suppressing the pro-federalism movement in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s military campaign against the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country and urged for an immediate stop to the punitive operation, advocating a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Over 2,000 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured since the start of Kiev’s military operation against independence supporters in eastern Ukraine in mid-April, according to the United Nations.