Putin wrong to link Crimea seizure, German unity: Berlin

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany on Wednesday rejected as skewed history President Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia absorbing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea was akin to Germany's reunification.

Putin, a KGB agent in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, said in a speech on Tuesday that Moscow had backed Germany's reunification, and that he now expects Germans to also support Russian aspirations to "restore unity".

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman called the comment as "an astonishing comparison" and one of several "skewed historical parallels" that had been made during the Ukraine standoff.

"German unification brought together two separate states of the one nation.

By contrast, the Russian intervention has led to the division of Ukraine," Steffen Seibert told a Berlin press conference.

"Besides, German reunification was accompanied in an exemplary manner by the international community through the 2+4 process" which grouped the two Germanies and World War II victors the US, Russia, Britain and France.

Seibert stressed that Germany had "not forgotten that the former Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev didn't stand in the way of our peaceful reunification, and we are glad about that until today".

Nonetheless, he said, Berlin "sees no parallels between the peaceful reunification of Germany and the events in Crimea".

He added that in the current crisis "Russia is taking the path of international isolation, a path that spells great danger for the coexistence of nations in Europe".

Reports of deaths in Crimea "show us the volatile nature of this approach", Seibert said. "We urgently call for moderation from Moscow and all those responsible in Crimea."

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