The G7 states are ready to implement additional Russia sanctions over Ukraine, US President Barack Obama said at the G7 summit in Bavaria on Monday.
“There is strong consensus that we need to keep pushing Russia to abide by the Mink agreement,” Obama said. He added that the Western partners also need to encourage Kiev to stick to the Minsk deal.
“There was discussion of additional steps,” if Russia “doubles the aggression on Ukraine”, however they were on a technical and not political level, he added.
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“Our hope is that we don’t have to take additional steps,” he said.
Obama said that the sanctions are hurting the Russian economy. He added that President Vladimir Putin would have to make a decision.
“Does he continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate glories of the Soviet empire, or does he recognize that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?” Obama said.
The G7 summit gathered world leaders for two days in southern Germany, with the crisis in Ukraine and the Greek economy topping the agenda.
On Monday, the G7 issued a joint communiqué summing up the results of their meeting. In regard to the Ukrainian crisis, the leaders agreed “that the duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
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Investigative journalist Tony Gosling told RT that it seems Western politicians are being driven by the US into rhetoric about uniting against Russia.
“This is our old Cold War talk, that is really driven by the Americans, and it certainly does not represent the views of European people or business, which is a bit worrying,” he said.
Speaking to reporters Monday, French President Francois Hollande said that “there are currently no reasons” to lift sanctions against Russia. He added that the sanctions are “likely” to be extended until the end of 2015, and that the issue will be reviewed by the European Council in June.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that negotiations with Russia are taking place, adding that “international crises can be solved with the Russian Federation.”
At the opening of the G7 on Sunday, European Council President Donald Tusk said that “all of us would prefer to have Russia around the G7 table.”
However, Tusk also backed tougher sanctions against Russia, saying that he hoped they would be put in place at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels in the end of June.
There has been a recent escalation of violence as residential areas were shelled in eastern Ukraine’s rebel-held territories. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors have reported violations of the Minsk ceasefire agreements by both sides in the conflict.
Moscow has urged the implementation of the ceasefire, connecting the recent escalation with the upcoming EU summit in Brussels.
“Yes, indeed, in the past Kiev had already heated up tensions amid some large international events. This is the case, and now we are seriously concerned about the next repetition of such activity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.
At the UN Security Council meeting on Saturday, Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said that Ukraine’s “flagrant violation and blunt ignorance of the Minsk agreements” caused frustration even among the Western states “loyal to Kiev.”