Ukraine crisis: Country 'is on the brink of civil war', says Germany

German Foreign Minister believes country is 'a few steps away' from full military confrontation

Ukraine is on the brink of civil war following riots and bloody clashes between pro-Russian separatists and troops, according to Germany's Foreign Minister.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke about the escalating violence in the divided country in interviews with newspapers El Pais, Le Monde, La Repubblica and Gazeta Wyborcza.

He said:  “The bloody pictures from Odessa have shown us that we are just a few steps away from a military confrontation.”

Mr Steinmeier admitted diplomacy was more difficult after the riots in the Black Sea port and fighting between rebels and Ukrainian troops in Slovyansk but said he hoped the bloodshed would act as a wake-up call and drive both sides towards a peaceful solution.

He called for all sides in the conflict to hold a second diplomatic conference in Geneva and agree to conduct presidential elections to give Ukraine's new leadership “democratic legitimacy”.

His comments came as the German government updated advice on its website to strongly discourage travel to southern and eastern parts of the country, where pro-Russian rebels have occupied public buildings, sparking violent protests and clashes with the Ukrainian army.

“German citizens living in these areas are advised to leave,” the website said.

The statement also warned that media representatives were at “particular risk” of being abducted or detained by separatist forces.

Four Germans were among a team of European military observers that were held for more than a week by insurgents in the rebel stronghold of Slovyansk until their release on Saturday.

The British government, which last updated its advisory on Saturday, has already recommended that UK nationals leave Crimea and is advising against all travel to the most troubled parts.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “As always, the safety of British nationals is a priority.

“We continue to follow developments carefully and keep our travel advice under continuous review.

“British nationals should continue to monitor FCO travel advice closely for any updates.”

A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa

Danger areas identified by both governments included Slovyansk, Donetsk, Lugansk, Odessa and the Crimean peninsula, which is under Russian control.

The Ukrainian government claimed 30 pro-Russian rebels have been killed in Slovyansk in battles with the army and dozens of people also died in violent riots in Odessa.

It is one of several Ukrainian cities where separatists have seized official buildings and many fear violence will escalate as the government continues its military crackdown.

Pro-Russian militants oppose the central government in Kiev, which came to power after the Russia-leaning president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled following months of street protests.

Additional reporting by AP

Read more:
Moldova on alert as Ukraine fighting intensifies
Dozens die in Odessa
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker