Germany urges pro-Russian separatists to halt offensive on Mariupol

Angela Merkel's spokesman said on Monday the German chancellor had urged pro-Russian separatists to halt their offensive on the east Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, and asked Russia's Vladimir Putin in a call on Sunday to use his influence over them.

"If we want to get out of this spiral of escalation and give diplomacy a chance, then it is absolutely crucial that above all the pro-Russian separatists finally respect the cease fire," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a press conference.

Germany reiterated there was a real threat of an escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine without the implementation of the Minsk peace accord, and urged Russia to ensure separatists withdraw heavy weapons as previously agreed.

Asked about possible further sanctions against Moscow, a foreign ministry spokesman said European foreign ministers would meet on Thursday and decide how to react.

"I can't tell you if there will be more or less sanctions," the spokesman said.

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