March 28 - Germany defends stance on Crimea as Russia says Europe needs to accept ''reality.'' Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is on the defensive, saying Germany is not trying to thwart a more forceful NATO reaction to Russia's seizure of Crimea following a newspaper report. Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called Germany "passive and hesitant" in its response to Russia annexing Crimea. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, SAYING: "But I think nothing of a public blame-game before the ministers even have the drafts on the desks. This crisis in the middle of Europe is too serious. And secondly, if we really want to avoid a military confrontation then we should also have the chance to have the debate with all appropriate seriousness in the NATO council, with all the NATO members. I do not have any doubts that the German role in this debate will be a very responsible one." In Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it's time to recognize that the map has been redrawn. (SOUNDBITE)(English) RUSSIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: "And I hope that the situation will be accepted with a sense of reality by our European partners." The EU has condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea and imposed economic sanctions on leading businessmen and politicians.