BERLIN Aug 15 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Friday
to help defuse the crisis in Ukraine and halt the stream of
weapons and armed personnel into the country, her office said in
a statement on Friday.
"The chancellor expressed her concern about the situation in
the east of Ukraine. In view of the need for an urgent ceasefire
she urged the president to help de-escalate the situation and in
particular to halt the stream of weapons, military advisers and
armed personnel into Ukraine," spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
She also expressed her hope that a convoy of aid would
reach its target quickly, in order to stop people's suffering.
The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France
are due to meet in Berlin on Sunday.
Merkel has called Putin repeatedly, seeking to draw on
traditionally closer relations between Berlin and Moscow than
other Western capitals, to appeal to him to ease the crisis over
a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.
She said this week Germany had a strong interest in a sound
and constructive relationship with Moscow, and she was always
prepared to keeping talking to the Russian president.
On Friday, Ukraine said its artillery destroyed part of a
Russian armoured column that entered its territory overnight and
said its forces came under shellfire from Russia in what
appeared to be a serious military escalation between the former
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Mark Heinrich)