March 17 - Germany's Foreign Minister warns that the Crimea vote could lead to new conflicts in Europe, adding that a military confrontation must be avoided. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
European Union leaders gather in Brussels Monday where they agree to impose a series of sanctions on officials from Russia and Ukraine after Crimea applied to join Russia following a weekend referendum. Crimea's leaders declared a Soviet-style 97-percent result in favor of seceding from Ukraine in a vote condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier says the referendum could create new conflicts in Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, SAYING: "It cannot be that almost seven decades after the end of World War Two, and 25 years after we have overcome the confrontation between blocs in the Cold War, it cannot be that we again start to correct borders, with a reference to minority rights or ethnical aspects. If this were to be started and legitimized, it would be an issue which would never end, and which would create new conflicts in Europe." The EU's 28 foreign ministers agreed on a list of 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials that will to be subject to travel bans and asset freezes. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, SAYING: "The list will include a number of people who carry responsibility in all kinds of areas for the worsening of the crisis in Crimea. It will include eight top politicians from Crimea itself. There will be 10 people from Russia on it -- Duma members and members of the Federation Council -- and there will be three military officials on that list; the Black See fleet's commander and two military officials in charge of the southern and western area military operations." He warns against the risk of war. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, SAYING: "We must now ensure that the already tense situation does not turn into further escalation, which in the end carries the risk of a military confrontation between Russian forces and Ukrainian forces within Ukraine." While the West may suspect Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to reconstitute as much as possible of the former Soviet Union under Russian authority, he himself, is not on the blacklist. Putin, attending an event at the Paralympics, did not mention Ukraine.