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Merkel gets Putin to accept "fact-finding" mission to Ukraine

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Merkel gets Putin to accept "fact-finding" mission to Ukraine


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have engaged in some telephone diplomacy over Ukraine, with Putin reportedly accepting a Merkel proposal for a fact-finding mission to open a political dialogue in Ukraine, possibly under the auspices of the Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe.

NATO also convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss its options. While its Secretary-General did not announce any hard measures, he repeated Russia’s military deployment was a violation of international law, and deplored the Russian parliament’s approval of the use of force.

“We call on Russia to de-escalate tensions. We call upon Russia to honour all its international commitments, to withdraw its forces to its bases and to refrain for any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

President Barack Obama was also on the phone to President Vladimir Putin, but that reportedly yielded little more than an underlining of very different positions. Cue the US Secretary of State, speaking on US television:

“You know Russia may be able to invade Crimea, but in the end, Russia will isolate itself. There will be costs to the economy of Russia, costs to Russian businesses, costs to Russian individuals, and ultimately Russia will isolate itself on a global stage where it has just spent $60 billion through the Olympics to try to present a different face to the world,” said John Kerry, who will visit Ukraine on Tuesday.

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