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Germany says Russia will pay the price if it moves towards Ukraine

The Green Party's co-leader Annalena Baerbock watches as she makes a statement following last night's meeting with the leadership of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Berlin, Germany, on September 29, 2021. REUTERS / Michele Tantussi / Pool

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KYIV, January 17 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday she hoped rising tensions with Russia over Ukraine could be resolved through diplomacy, but warned that Moscow would suffer if it attacked the country.

"Every further aggressive action will have a high price for Russia, economically, strategically, politically," Baerbock said, in Kiev on a trip that will next take her to Moscow, at a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

"Diplomacy is the only way."

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Talks between Moscow and Western states over Russia's deployment of tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border ended without a breakthrough last week. A cyber attack on Ukraine has further fueled tensions. Read more

Kuleba said Ukraine and Germany were united in pushing to revive four-way peace talks to end the war in eastern Ukraine in so-called "Normandy", which includes Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.

Excluded from much of last week's negotiations, Ukraine has repeatedly sought and received assurances from allies that no decisions on the country's future would be made without the country's involvement and consent.

"It is important for us now that neither Berlin nor Paris make any decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, and do not play any game behind our backs in relation to Russia. This is the key now," Kuleba said at the briefing.

"For this I would like to thank Annalena for taking such a principled position."

Germany has supported Ukraine with aid and diplomatic backing in its fight against Moscow since Russia conquered the Crimean peninsula and supported separatists in the Donbass region in 2014.

But there are points of contention. Ukraine opposes Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that has not yet opened, which will send Russian gas to Germany and bypass transit through Ukraine. Baerbock said the pipeline had now been put on hold and was not in line with European energy legislation.

Kyiv has also lamented Berlin's refusal to sell arms to Ukraine. Ukraine's ambassador to Germany called the decision "very frustrating and bitter" in an interview with German media ahead of Baerbock's visit.

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Reporting by Alexander Ratz, Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets and Emma Thomasson Writing by Matthias Williams Editing by Peter Graff

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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