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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project