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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch


BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will increase its defence spending in the coming years as promised to NATO allies, but the government should also keep its military history and fears among European neighbours in mind, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Wednesday.

"One has to ask whether it would really calm Germany's neighbours if we turned into big military power in Europe," Gabriel told reporters.

He also urged Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists to stick to a ceasefire, warning it would be difficult to solve the crisis if both sides did not adhere to agreements.

The head of the OSCE said on Tuesday that a ceasefire in Ukraine was not looking "too good" and confirmation of the agreed removal of heavy artillery would have to wait until at least Wednesday.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin)