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BERLIN — Germany's foreign minister said after visiting Ukraine this weekend that he fears Russia may have opened "Pandora's Box" with its attempt to redraw national borders in Europe.
"We can't overlook the fact that Russia, with its action in Crimea, is flouting the central foundations of the peaceful order in Europe," Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
"I'm very worried the unlawful attempt to alter recognized borders in our European neighborhood, 25 years after the end of the Cold War, will open Pandora's Box," he said.
Steinmeier said his impression from visiting Kiev and the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Saturday was that the situation was "anything but stable."
A planned monitoring mission by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could help avoid an escalation of the stand-off, he said.
Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Sunday that the European Union was united in its readiness to impose economic sanctions on Russia if the stand-off over Ukraine escalates — and that Moscow had much more to lose than the West.
"I don't think we are divided. None of us wants to escalate, but if Russia changes things unilaterally, then it must know that we won't accept it and that relations will be bad," Schaeuble said on German television in an interview.
"Russia has a lot more to lose in the medium term than the West, than Europe or the United States," he said.