German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday the European Union would rather avoid confrontation with Russia over its incursion into Ukrainian territory in Crimea but would have to prepare an EU response if Moscow doesn't back down, Reuters reported.
"If the weekend passes without a visible change in Russia's conduct, then on Monday in the European Council we will have to discuss a next stage of measures," he said on a visit to the Baltic states, all EU members who are worried about Ukraine.
"We don't want confrontation but the action of the Russian side unfortunately makes it necessary for us to prepare, as I have just outlined to you," Steinmeier told reporters in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
As a result of protests in Ukraine, the country's President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted on Feb. 22. The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has approved the new composition of the parliament and is preparing to hold pre-term elections.
On Feb. 26 several thousand people participating in two rallies gathered in front of Supreme Council of Crimea. After the escalation of the protest actions in Crimea, the Federation Council supported President Vladimir Putin's appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine pending "the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country".
Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the U.S., as well as chairman of the European Council and the chairman of the European Commission made a joint statement condemning Russia's position on Ukraine and canceled the preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, scheduled for June 2014.
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