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EU Leaders Commit to the Continued Implementation of Restrictive Measures Against Russia

The 17th EU-Ukraine summit took place in Kyiv, Ukraine on 27 April 2015, being the first summit taking place under the framework of the Association Agreement, the treaty between the EU and Ukraine that establishes a political and economic association between the parties.

The summit was an opportunity for the EU and Ukraine to discuss: (i) the implementation of the Association Agreement and the political and economic reforms in Ukraine including EU financial and other assistance; (ii) the crisis in Eastern Ukraine and the application of the Minsk agreements; and (iii) regional issues and the preparations for the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Riga.

During the summit, EU and Ukrainian leaders are reported to have agreed that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, the ceasefire deal struck between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, remains the best chance to move towards a political solution, taking note of the European Council Conclusions of 19 March 2015 which called both for the swift and full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and for the duration of the restrictive measures against Russia to be linked to such implementation.

In the last few days, Russia has fiercely responded to the EU’s commitment to link the Minsk agreements with the lifting of sanctions, with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirming that Russia is not willing to discuss with the EU the conditions for lifting of sanctions.

“Moscow would not negotiate criteria of lifting sanctions with the EU” Lavrov said, adding “this is not our decision and this is not up to us to cancel it. We are not going to deal with that.”

“Russia acts according to the real situation, not hopes and expectations” Lavrov stated, whilst noting that the reality requires Russia to become self-reliant and self-sufficient in sectors that used to depend on cooperation with foreign countries.

With three-party contact group (the group which includes representatives of the Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) discussions set for this week in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, focusing on the implementation of the Minsk agreements, further positioning on the issue of linking sanctions to the Minsk agreements is expected to be imminent.