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Merkel: Germany's goal still is to restore Crimea to Ukraine; not ruling out new sanctions

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BERLIN — Germany's goal remains to restore the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, a year after Crimea's annexation by Russian forces.

Speaking after talks in Berlin with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Merkel said the March 19, 2014, annexation of the peninsula was a violation of international law that "called the peaceful order in Europe into question."

"It's important despite, or because of, this to work for a peaceful solution and not rest until the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored, and of course this includes Crimea," she said.

PHOTO: German President Joachim Gauck, left, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, right, review the honor guards during the welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German President Joachim Gauck, left, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, right, review the honor guards during the welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Merkel said if necessary, the European Union was prepared to bring more sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

"We don't want them. But if there's no other way, then they need to be implemented," she said.

Poroshenko said he hoped if Russia and the separatists it backs in eastern Ukraine have not fulfilled their obligations under a cease-fire deal worked out in Minsk last month, "it will be made clear that the sanctions (against Russia) will continue and be strengthened" at a EU summit in Brussels this week.

President Barack Obama and European leaders have wielded sanctions as their main form of retaliation for Russia's actions in Ukraine.

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PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko during a joint news conference after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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