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EU mulls possible gradual lifting of sanctions from Russia

September 30, 2014, 9:28 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

The unanimous support of all EU states will be needed to take any decisions to soften the regime of sanctions

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BRUSSELS, September 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Fulfilment of a peace plan in Ukraine and implementation of a ceasefire for possible lifting of sanctions from Russia are high on the agenda of a conference of ambassadors from 28 EU states in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.

After a meeting of the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives, the European Commission and the EU foreign policy chief’s office were tasked with working out proposals to make changes in sanctions imposed on Russia, spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief Maya Kocijancic told ITAR-TASS.

So, debate over modifying the sanctions regime will begin only in October. Moreover, the unanimous support of all EU states will be needed to take any decisions to soften the regime of sanctions.

Mechanism of lifting sanctions

A source in the EU foreign political service told ITAR-TASS earlier that all the decisions on the prohibition measures are made by consensus of all 28 EU member states. Commenting on the possible sanctions’ lifting process, the source said there are two possible ways of lifting them — both are phased, the lifting of the whole sanctions block is out of the question.

The first option is the natural expiration of the sanctions’ period without its extension. All the restrictive measures were introduced for a definite time period — the first versions of the “blacklist” adopted in spring were issued until November, and the economic restrictive measures were introduced in August 2014 until the end of the year, the diplomat said.

The second option is more conscious and system-based, it provides for lifting of separate sanctions packages stage-by-stage as the situation in Ukraine stabilizes. From the political viewpoint, it would be better, the source said. He also admitted that this option might be the most complicated technically.

After the EU announced the introduction of new sanctions against Russia that took effect on September 12, European Council President Herman van Rompuy said the EU could fully or partially lift them, depending on the developments in the east of Ukraine.

Ceasefire in east Ukraine

On September 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a plan to settle the current crisis in Ukraine. This plan offered an end to offensive operations by all military formations in south-east Ukraine, providing international control over observance of the ceasefire, refusing to use warplanes against civilians, all-for-all exchange of prisoners of war, opening humanitarian corridors and sending repairing brigades to restore the infrastructure in the region.

On the basis of the peace plan proposed at a meeting of the Contact Group in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on September 5, a protocol was adopted with the ceasefire and prisoner of war exchange being its main terms. The Contact Group has endorsed a memorandum on fulfilling the ceasefire regime.

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