German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she has “the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions” against Russia in the latest sign that Moscow and Berlin are working to renew relations amid conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Merkel said as long as pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine keep the peace, she is prepared to ask the European Union to immediately lift energy, financial and defense sanctions sanctions against Russia.
“As soon as we see progress in the Minsk agreement, we will loosen the sanctions,” Merkel said at an event in northeastern Germany on Monday evening, referring to the peace deal in Ukraine. But Merkel also noted that the the Minsk agreement signed in February 2015, which calls for the removal of heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine, has constantly been violated by both sides.
The European Union brought sanctions against Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also called to end sanctions against Russia in recent days, urging a return to “a reliable understanding of common security,” the Local reported.