Germany's Merkel warns Russia against 'old patterns of thinking'

Reuters

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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia on Wednesday against falling back into "old patterns of thinking" about spheres of influences and said events in Crimea fell into this category.

Speaking in Berlin at an event to commemorate the outbreak of World War One, she warned that those who whip up conflict over Ukraine's national integrity not only breach international law but also ignore the lessons of European history.

Since a pro-Russian president was ousted in Ukraine in an uprising in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin has overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy by proclaiming the right to send troops to Ukraine and seizing and annexing Crimea.

"In Crimea we're experiencing a regression into old patterns of thinking," Merkel said at the event attended by 400 young people from 40 countries.

"The answer to globalization is not old patterns of thinking or partition but developing common interests - that's what makes Europe appealing," she said.

"Those whose thinking revolves around their own sphere of influence may be stronger than us in the short-term but not in the end. In the end they will only damage themselves."

A rebellion in eastern Ukraine has raised the prospect that the country could be carved up or even descend into civil war.

"These days we are seeing that we cannot take peace and freedom for granted, even among our close neighbors," said Merkel, who recalled that Berliners a century ago cheered the outbreak of World War One, something that was unthinkable today.

On Tuesday Merkel criticized Russian plans for a military parade in Crimea on Friday to mark the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, citing the heightened tensions in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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