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Merkel: Russia ‘violated’ EU with Ukraine actions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 22, 2015 in Davos.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 22, 2015 in Davos.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has maintained her forceful line on Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine, despite the economic impact on Germany of sanctions against Russia.

"There is one thing that we hold very important – the elementary principles of the European Union were violated," Merkel, who was born and brought up in East Germany under Soviet Union influence, told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.


Her words may silence some of the speculation in the media that others members of her cabinet would prefer a softer line on towards Moscow's support of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Violence in Donetsk and Luhansk, the disputed parts of eastern Ukraine, has escalated this week. Sanctions imposed against certain Russian businesses and individuals, following the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, have contributed to Russia's current economic problems.

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Merkel also addressed what she called the "global fight against Islamic terror" in a wide-ranging speech.

"This year has started with a bang that shook us to the core with that terrible attack," she said, speaking of recent terrorist incidents in France.

"Those matters we have taken for granted need to be fought for time and time again."

Germany, led by Merkel, Europe's longest-serving current elected European head of state, was one of the most important supporters of the national bailouts which followed the euro zone's near-disastrous credit crisis. It has since urged countries to stick to austerity policies, and also cautioned on the use of unconventional monetary policy, such as the European Central Bank's recent quantitative easing program, announced Thursday.

Her fellow European politicians need to do less "navel-gazing" and concentrate on getting their economies in order, Merkel said.

"I am very certain that spreads for state bonds cannot be dramatically cheaper," she said, speaking of the cost of borrowing for European countries.

"Now is the time to do your homework."

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle in Davos, Switzerland.