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BERLIN, September 29. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union has substantial reasons to continue its energy partnership with Russia despite the conflict in Ukraine, but the situation could change should Moscow keep holding its position on Ukrainian developments, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.
“In the mid and long term, the necessity may arise to revise the energy cooperation with the Russian Federation,” Merkel said in Berlin speaking at a press conference after talks with Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb.
She stressed that “our goal is not to completely get rid of interdependence” and added that energy cooperation is in the interests of both the EU and Russia.
The German chancellor said Germany and Finland are united in the viewpoint that it is important to keep pressuring Russia. She said she sees no reason to ease sanctions the EU imposed on Moscow in light of the events in Ukraine yet.
“We are unfortunately very far from that,” Merkel said, adding that the truce needs to be observed and free elections monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] should be held.
Stubb, in turn, said his government will not request NATO membership at a time when Ukraine is in crisis.
According to the UN, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire during OSCE-mediated talks on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day despite reports that it has occasionally been violated. The West, however, keeps imposing sanctions on Russia and claiming Moscow is involved in hostilities in Ukraine - an allegation Russia has repeatedly denied.
Russia came under Western sanctions, originally visa bans and asset freezes, for incorporation of Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February. Later, Western claims that Russia is taking part in hostilities in southeast Ukraine resulted in more serious, sectoral, restrictions.
In response, Moscow imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
The EU and the United States imposed the latest batch of sectoral sanctions against Russia on September 12 despite the deal on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, signed in Minsk a week before.