Merkel: sanctions against Russia to be lifted if Minsk agreement fully implemented

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The sanctions imposed by the West on Russia should only be withdrawn once the reasons they were put in place are eliminated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that EU sanctions against Russia tied to its intervention in eastern Ukraine could only be lifted if there was full implementation of the Minsk agreement signed between Kyiv and pro-Russian rebels back in September, Censor.NET reports citing Reuters.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin with visiting Ukraine Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk, Merkel said she did not expect separate sanctions tied to Crimea could be lifted as this would require a reversal of Russia's annexation of the territory.

"I have little hope on that front," Merkel said. "The other sanctions were introduced in response to the intervention in eastern Ukraine. Fulfilling the entire Minsk agreement is the way to bring about a reversal (of sanctions) here. The entire Minsk agreement must be implemented before we can say these sanctions can be lifted."

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As earlier reported, in March 2014, after annexing the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, Russia began to destabilize the situation in the Donbas with the direct participation of Russian special services and support of the Russian army in the Donbas.

Despite Russian denials, a large body of photographic and video evidence shows that Russia has been supplying weapons to the militants who have seized control in some parts of Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions. It has also been sending mercenaries and its regular troops to the Donbas.

In view of such actions, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia and several other countries have introduced sanctions against Russia.

Merkel also said Yatseniuk had presented a convincing case for his reform plans. She said it would only become clear in the coming days whether a proposed meeting with the leaders Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany would take place as planned later this month in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.

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