German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday international sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine should depend on whether peacekeeping commitments signed this year in Minsk are upheld.
“During the European Council (meeting) in March we took an unambiguous decision that the sanctions should be tied to the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” Merkel told a joint news conference with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw.
“It is clear that the implementation of this package is taking longer. We will deal with this issue in June (when the EU will hold its scheduled sanctions review),” she said.
Kopacz said that Merkel agreed with her that sanctions, which have been already imposed on Russia, should be maintained.
“We are in agreement on the situation and our basic policies with regard to Ukraine and Russia. We believe that, currently, a softening of sanctions vis-à-vis Russia would not be justified,” said Kopacz.
She added that the degree to which the Minsk deal will be followed will determine whether the current sanctions regime will be extended or even broadened.
The Minsk agreements spell out a step-by-step de-escalation of the conflict in east Ukraine between government troops and separatist rebels, widely seen as being supported by Russia with personnel and weapons, a charge Moscow denies.
According to estimates, the year-old conflict has to date claimed more than 6,100 lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Some material for this story came from AP.