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Steinmeier Says Europe Threatened By 'New Divides,' Urges Dialogue With Russia

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (file photo)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that Europe "is at risk of splitting along new divides."

In an opinion column published in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus marking the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, Steinmeier said "peace in Europe cannot be taken for granted."

He also urged diplomatic dialogue between NATO and Russia rather than military confrontation.

Steinmeier's commentary was published on June 22 in Russia's Kommersant, Ukraine's Serkalo Nedeli, and Belarus' Sovetskaya Belorussiya newspapers.

Referring to Russia's annexation Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support for separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine, Steinmeier said the "unilateral shifting of borders in breach of international law and the failure to respect the territorial integrity of neighboring countries… take us back to the times from which we believed we had escaped, times that nobody can wish for."

On June 18, Steinmeier warned NATO against "warmongering" by staging military exercises on its eastern flanks.

He urged the alliance to replace the training exercises with more dialogue and cooperation with Russia.

Steinmeier said on June 19 that, if the Kremlin does its part to implement the Minsk peace plan for Ukraine, the European Union should gradually phase out sanctions imposed against Russia for its role in Ukraine's crisis.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters