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BERLIN, March 3. /TASS/. Anti-Russian sanctions may only be lifted if the Minsk agreements on settlement of the situation in east Ukraine are implemented in full, the German government press service reported Tuesday after phone talks of Chancellor Angela Merkel with the leaders of the United States, Britain, Italy, France and the head of the European Council.
"Partners in talks pointed to a strong interrelation between the current sanctions and implementation of the Minsk agreements," the statement said. "It means that the restrictive measures may only be canceled if the Minsk agreements fully materialize."
"Simultaneously they emphasized that in case of further escalation they are ready to take new sanctions measures," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
The Package of Measures on implementation of the September Minsk agreements, agreed February 12 by the Trilateral Contact Group on east Ukrainian settlement, stipulated an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions from February 15, pullout of heavy armaments and establishment of a security zone.
It also stipulated the start of payment of pensions and allowances to residents of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), as well as a constitutional reform in Ukraine, designed to achieve deep decentralization of state administration.
DPR and LPR militiamen implemented the point on heavy hardware pullback, monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), by March 1 in full. Ukraine pledged to complete armaments withdrawal by March 7.
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.
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.
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.