US says sanctions remain until Russia implements Minsk deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry says sanction will remain until Russia implements Ukraine deal

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 13, 2016.

Sanctions against Russia will continue until it implements the Ukraine deal reached in Minsk last year, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.

"Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions," he said at the yearly Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Kerry said that sanctions are not an end in themselves, but “we shouldn't forget why they were imposed in the first place: to stand up for Ukraine's fundamental rights - its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The West accuses Russia of sending troops and military equipment into the Donbass region -Donetsk and Luhansk regions- since the conflict began in 2014, which Russia denies.

In order to end sanctions, Kerry demanded Russia to “withdraw weapons and troops from free, fair, and internationally-monitored elections in Donbass under Ukrainian law, and restore Ukraine's control of its side of the international border."

He also praised European governments for "showing resolve and common purpose in the face of Russia's repeated aggression."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) speaks to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 13, 2016.

Germany pushes for implementation of peace deal

Germany's foreign minister pressed for progress on a year-old peace plan for eastern Ukraine as he met with senior officials from Russia, Ukraine and France on Saturday, saying that he hopes that Moscow and Kiev realise that they don't have forever to implement the deal.

Steinmeier said in a written statement on Saturday that they are "still a fair way from implementing Minsk."

"I am counting on it being clear to all those in positions of responsibility in Kiev and Moscow that we no longer have forever to implement what was agreed in Minsk."

"We must not let up in our efforts to push the parties to the conflict to take further steps," Steinmeier said.

Germany and France had intermediated the eastern Ukraine peace deal in Minsk, Belarus a year ago, yet the fighting hasn't fully stopped and there has been little progress in bringing about a political settlement.

TRTWorld and agencies