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Merkel: Anti-Russian sanctions to be lifted if their causes are removed


She once again linked the possibility to soften sanctions with implementation of the Minsk agreements on settlement in east Ukraine

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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, June 8. /TASS/. Sanctions against Russia will only be lifted in case their causes are removed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on the ZDF television channel.

"The sanctions may be canceled when there are no more prerequisites under which they were once imposed, and when problems are solved," Merkel said.

She once again linked the possibility to soften sanctions with implementation of the Minsk agreements on settlement in east Ukraine.

"If Minsk is implemented, sanctions will be lifted," Merkel said. She said the restrictive measures against Moscow are not an end in itself but "are a tool to achieve goals."

"We have always said: there is a connection between the Minsk agreements and extension of sanctions, with the possibility of their cancelation," she said.

At the same time, Merkel admitted that the West needs cooperation with Russia to solve global international problems, such as the conflict in Syria or Iran’s nuclear program.

The Group of Seven (G7) is an association of economically developed countries consisting of Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States, France and Japan. Its key goals are to seek solutions for global political and social problems. In 1976-1997 the group existed in the form of G7.

After Russia joined G7, the association got the name of the Group of Eight (G8). In March 2014, as a result of the events in Ukraine and the ensuing crisis in Russia-West relations, the organization decided to return to the G7 format.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia is "not clinging to the G8 format." "The G8 is an informal club, no one issues membership cards, no one may expel anyone from there by definition. If our Western partners believe the format is outdated, let it be like that. We are not clinging to it," he said.

Sanctions and Minsk deals

For incorporation of Crimea after last year’s coup in Ukraine, Russia came under sanctions on the part of the United States and many European countries. The restrictive measures were soon intensified following Western and Ukrainian claims that Russia supported militias in self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s southeast and was involved in destabilization of Ukraine.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as claims that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s east, which have by now left thousands of people dead.

On September 19, 2014, the Trilateral Contact Group on settlement in east Ukraine comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE adopted a memorandum in Minsk to outline the parameters for the implementation of commitments on a ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the 12-point Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

The Contact Group’s meetings in December 2014 and January 2015 were nearly fruitless. The Group held regular talks in Minsk on February 10-12, 2015, signing a 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements.

The Package of Measures (Minsk-2) included cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement in Ukraine, in particular establishment of working subgroups. The ceasefire has been repeatedly violated.

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