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Merkel calls for extending EU sanctions against Russia

German chancellor has criticized cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine; says EU should maintain sanctions against Russia

Merkel calls for extending EU sanctions against Russia



German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized Moscow for not respecting the cease-fire deal in eastern Ukraine and backed extending EU sanctions against Russia.

"Suspension of sanctions, which were agreed after the annexation of Crimea in violation of the international law are of course not up for debate for the time being," Merkel said in her address at the parliament ahead of the EU leaders' summit Thursday.

She said that despite the Minsk cease-fire deal agreed in February and reduction of hostilities, military operations and violations continued in eastern Ukraine.

"A possible suspension of sanctions against Russia is conditioned upon the full implementation of the Minsk cease-fire deal. This has not been accomplished so far," Merkel said.

"Therefore, I and my foreign minister will support not only the Minsk agreement, but also the extension of current sanctions," she added.

The future of EU sanctions against Russia is not on the official agenda of the European Council meeting on Dec. 17-18, but European leaders are expected to discuss the issue during their working dinner.

Ambassadors of the 28-member EU states in Brussels are set to discuss Friday the proposal to roll over sanctions on Russia for another six months. 

EU sanctions were first imposed in 2014 in response to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and over its support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The sanctions mainly target senior officials in Russia and exclude its state banks from raising long-term loans.

More than 9,000 people have lost their lives due to conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels since mid-April 2014, according to the UN. 

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