World

Germany won't recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, 1 year after referendum

  • German President Joachim Gauck, right, and his partner Daniela Schadt, left, welcome Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, second from right, and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, second from left, at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

    German President Joachim Gauck, right, and his partner Daniela Schadt, left, welcome Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, second from right, and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, second from left, at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)  (The Associated Press)

  • German President Joachim Gauck, left, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, right, review the honor guards during the welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

    German President Joachim Gauck, left, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, right, review the honor guards during the welcoming ceremony prior to a meeting at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)  (The Associated Press)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, left, brief the media during a news conference after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, left, brief the media during a news conference after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)  (The Associated Press)

Germany says it won't recognize Russia's annexation of Crimean Peninsula, one year after a referendum that Ukraine said was illegitimate.

The issue of Crimea's status has taken a back seat in recent efforts to broker a peace deal for eastern Ukraine, where government forces are battling separatists backed by Russia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a key figure in those talks.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert says Germany supports Ukraine "within its internationally recognized border" and accused Moscow of threatening peace in Europe.

Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday that Germany is also concerned about the worsening human rights situation in Crimea, where non-Russian minorities have been targeted.

He spoke shortly before Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko was due to meet with Merkel.