Merkel warns of 'massive damage' to Russia if it fails to change course
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that Russia risked "massive" political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, Reuters reported.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine," she said in a speech in parliament, using her strongest rhetoric since the start of the crisis.
"We would not only see it, also as neighbors of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union's relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically."
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.