Germany welcomes Putin's "constructive tone" on Ukraine

BERLIN Thu May 8, 2014 4:20am EDT

BERLIN May 8 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's call on pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to delay a vote in secession, saying now Putin had to deliver.

"We are perhaps at a crucial point," Steinmeier said in a statement, adding that while the situation in Ukraine remained critical, there was a chance diplomacy could prevent a further escalation of violence and a loss of control in eastern Ukraine.

"I welcome the constructive tone that President Putin struck after his meeting with the head of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe). What was discussed in Moscow must now be translated into action immediately."

Putin's appeal to the separatists on Wednesday - five days before a planned vote on indepedence for two eastern provinces - has been seen as a first sign of a possible breakthrough in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Steinmeier said all efforts must be directed at making sure Ukrainian presidential elections take place as planned on May 25 in order to create the foundations for a new constitution. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown)

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