German FM Believes EU Should Gradually Lift Sanctions Against Russia

The absolute implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine crisis settlement is impossible, and the European Union should gradually lift sanctions against Russia in order to promote the peace process, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday.

Gabriel also spoke in favor of the new EU-Russia policy.

"In accordance with the EU decision, the Minsk agreements should be implemented by 100 percent before the sanctions [against Russia] could be lifted by 100 percent. I think it is unrealistic. It would have been right to gradually remove sanctions in order to show that we should take steps toward peace," Gabriel said in an interview with the Focus news magazine.

"Despite the fact that there are many reasons against it now, I advocate for the new eastern policy and the policy of resolving tensions," the German foreign minister noted.

When asked about his frequent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Gabriel said that they met often because there were many issues to discuss. He also expressed the hope for more informal relations with the Russian leader, but noted that the Ukrainian crisis should be solved first in order to achieve them.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Brussels, Washington and their allies have introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions since Crimea became part of Russia in 2014 and over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability.


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