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BRUSSELS, February 13. /TASS/. Western sanctions against Russia may be eased or added up depending on the implementation of the Ukrainian ceasefire agreement reached at the summit in Minsk this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
The Council of the European Union, held at the level of foreign ministers on February 9, agreed to blacklist five more Russian nationals and 14 representatives of the self-proclaimed republics in the south-east of Ukraine. However, in a bid not to aggravate the Minks negotiations on the Ukraine settlement, the new penalties are not supposed to take effect before February 16.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels after an extraordinary EU summit, Merkel said that the reinforcement of EU’s February 9 list of new sanctions was still an option and depended on the ceasefire implementation in the south-east of Ukraine.
The leader of Germany, Russia, France and Ukraine met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Wednesday night in a bid to find a way for the Ukrainian crisis settlement.
The key negotiations, which started at 8:15 p.m. Moscow time (17:15 GMT) on Wednesday, lasted for around 16 hours. The high-ranking participants of the marathon talks in Minsk agreed on ceasefire from midnight, February 15.
The previous ceasefire between Kiev authorities and defense forces of the self-proclaimed republics in the southeast of Ukraine was reached in September with the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The ceasefire was agreed upon on September 5 at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict as well as the OSCE representatives. It was reached in the Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
However, numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since. The situation in the south-east of Ukraine deteriorated further with the start of this year as military clashes intensified resulting in numerous casualties on both conflicting sides.
The deterioration in Ukraine prompted a diplomatic blitz from Hollande and Merkel last week as they went first for talks with Poroshenko in Kiev on Thursday and then met with Putin in the Kremlin the other day.
The West started imposing sanctions on Russia since March 2014 over the events in Ukraine. First, an early EU summit stalled the talks on a visa-free regime and a new base agreement on Russia-EU cooperation. Further on, the sanctions were grouped into three categories — personal, corporate and sectoral.
By the beginning of September, some 420 Russian individuals and 143 companies had been put on the sanction lists of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and Norway.
The sectoral sanctions imposed for a term of one year include an embargo on the supply of arms to Russia and the importation of Russian weapons and related materials, a ban on the delivery of dual-purpose products and technologies to Russia, as well as innovative technologies for Russia’s oil extracting industry.
In mid-September, the European Union published new sanctions against Russia in its official journal.
Russia fully banned from August 7, 2014 the imports of meat, fish, cheeses, milk, vegetables and fruits from western countries that had imposed economic sanctions against Russian citizens and companies.
The countries that have slapped sanctions against Russia include the European Union member states, Norway, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Early this week Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said that he estimated Europe’s losses from its sanctions against Russia at €21 billion.
"The sanctions have caused damage to everyone. By now, the European Union has lost €21 billion from a contraction in its exports," the minister said.