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Steinmeier says progress on Ukraine not possible without a lasting ceasefire

Germany's foreign minister has warned that the situation in Ukraine won't change without a long-term ceasefire. Talks between key officials are being held in Paris regarding the continuing crisis.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday that the so-called Minsk peace deal, agreed upon in February, was being "violated every day," and implored all involved to work harder to avoid an intensification of the crisis.

"All parties to the conflict must ensure that the military escalation cannot reach such an extent that the situation gets out of control—both militarily and politically," he said.

Steinmeier also called for a "withdrawal of heavy weapons and free access for the observers of the OSCE," or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, describing these as the "prerequisite for all further steps that contribute to a political solution of the conflict."

Without a long-term ceasefire, "nothing else can be accomplished," he warned.

His comments came before he joined talks with foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine and France in the French capital, Paris. The group has met several times to try push through the struggling truce, in the face of

increasing fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, the announcement the United States would place military equipment in several European countries, such as Lithuania, Romania and Poland, inflamed tensions with Moscow.

This followed news on Monday that

NATO would ramp up its military presence

in eastern Europe, and a decision by EU ministers to

extend sanctions against Russia

until at least the end of January next year.

A meeting earlier on Tuesday between OSCE representatives, and officials from Russia and Ukraine, ended without resolution. The next round of talks between the foreign ministers is scheduled for July 7.

an/bw (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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