February 16, 2017 / 2:15 PM / 3 years ago

Germany urges Russia to influence separatists in eastern Ukraine - sources

Members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic forces block an area after pro-Russian separatist commander Mikhail Tolstykh died in an explosion in his office, according to local media, in Donetsk, Ukraine February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has told Russia to exert its influence on separatists in eastern Ukraine to withdraw their weapons from the frontline, German diplomatic sources said after the minister met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The sources said on Thursday Gabriel had demanded Russia do what it can to ensure the implementation of an agreement to withdraw weapons on the front line in places with heavy fighting, agreed on Wednesday by the Minsk contact group.

“That is essential to strengthen the ceasefire .. which is far too fragile,” German diplomatic sources said after talks between Gabriel and Lavrov in Bonn where G20 foreign ministers are meeting.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Joseph Nasr

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