February 5, 2015 / 9:50 AM / 5 years ago

German foreign minister planning new push for Ukraine truce

RIGA (Reuters) - Europe will launch a new push for a negotiated solution in eastern Ukraine after the escalation in fighting between Kiev’s forces and Moscow-backed rebels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday.

“We believe that we have to make another effort to try to end the violence. That is a responsibility we have to take,” he told reporters after meeting officials in Latvia, holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency.

Steinmeier did not give details of what the new diplomatic initiative would involve. Several previous mediation efforts have failed to have a lasting effect. Steinmeier flies to Poland later on Thursday for talks on Ukraine.

Kiev’s Western allies are alarmed at an advance by rebels in eastern Ukraine over the past few weeks which has shattered a five-month-old ceasefire.

The rebel advance has prompted renewed talk among Western governments of supplying weapons to Kiev’s forces, but European states disagree on that issue.

At a joint news conference with Steinmeier, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said while the EU as a whole would not take a common stance on weapons, individual member states were free to take their own decisions.

“The situation has evolved in a so dramatic a direction that I don’t rule out that some EU member state could take such a decision,” Rinkevics said.

“Taking into account the development of the situation I don’t think that we would have grounds to criticize some member state if such decisions would be taken,” he said.

Steinmeier repeated Germany’s opposition to providing Kiev with arms, saying that it would do nothing to improve the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting by Aija Krutaine and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Ajia Krutaine and Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams

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