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MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Wednesday the position of the European Union on the issue of lifting sanctions against Russia is ambiguous.
Chizhov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel that the EU’s position is based on the EU March summit’s decision linking the future of sanctions with the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
"Those who speak for extension of sanctions are guided by the schedule of implementation of the Minsk agreements, which is designed for the period until the end of the year," he said.
"But no one is speaking of toughening [the sanctions] in practice," Chizhov said.
He said the decision on sanctions may only be made unanimously, but as of today, "the situation is unclear and ambiguous."
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New large-scale punitive measures against Russia followed in September and December 2014.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.