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A statement from the German gov't following a phone call earlier between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin says the German leader addressed the issue of Ukraine with Putin, and demanded that Russian troop escalation on Ukraine's eastern border be reversed.
- Kremlin comments released earlier state that Putin said Ukraine was 'provoking' tensions on the border.
- Statement says Merkel also addressed the reports of the declining health of Putin critic Alexei Navalny, currently incarcerated in a prison labour camp, as well as the security and political situations in Bosnia, Libya, and Syria.
- MNI Comment: Chancellor Merkel undoubtedly has to tread the finest line of any Western leader with regards to Russia. As one of the two major powers in the EU, Berlin cannot be seen to condone or remain neutral on what NATO and other Western countries have called aggressive manoeuvres. However, the Nord Stream II gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is nearing completion, and the Merkel gov't has shown no sign of risking a potentially crucial energy link , meaning further action in an effort to change Moscow's behaviour seems unlikely.
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