EU Delays Expansion of Russia Sanctions Ahead of Minsk SummitEU | February 9, 2015, Monday // 19:08| views
(L-R) Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius and Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec at the start of the European Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels, Belgium, 9 February 2015. Photo EPA/BGNES
European Union foreign ministers on Monday delayed the implementation of a new round of sanctions against Russia to give a chance to a fresh peace initiative led by France and Germany.
Encouraged by the latest reports from the Germans and French suggesting some progress toward putting an end to the fighting between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine might have been achieved, the EU foreign ministers agreed to adopt the expansion of sanctions but postpone their introduction by one week.
The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are scheduled to meet in Belarus on Wednesday. If their talks produce a lasting ceasefire, the EU could scrap the expansion of sanctions altogether - a move that would have to be approved by all EU member states.
The expanded sanctions will affect 19 individuals and nine entities in Russia and rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine which the EU is considering responsible for the escalation of violence in the region.
“I hope there might be a breakthrough on Wednesday,” said Johannes Hahn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Fran?ois Hollande have visited Moscow and Kiev in recent days, seeking a renewed ceasefire and peace plan. Germany said on Sunday discussions would continue on Monday in Berlin, with a four-way meeting scheduled for Wednesday in Belarus’ capital, Minsk.
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