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Senator slams as absurd reason for expected extension of anti-Russian sanctions

According to Konstantin Kosachev, it must be clear even to "diehard Russophobes in Brussels" that the Minsk agreements, with which the anti-Russian sanctions are linked, are not implemented by Ukraine

MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said on Wednesday that it was ‘absurd’ to link the upcoming decision from the European Union to extend sanctions against Russia with its alleged non-compliance with the Minsk agreements.

"In principle, there is nothing new about this, but for one ‘but’ - a Normandy Four summit held shortly before, which, in my opinion, has turned this habitual and gainful for the EU linking of sanctions with the Minsk agreements into the full and ultimate absurdity," Kosachev blogged in Facebook.

In the eyes of the world, the Russian president acted in Paris as the main and most consistent supporter of the spirit and letter of the Minsk agreements. Meanwhile, "the Ukrainian leader specifically emphasized that these agreements had been signed by the previous president, and his differences with Putin were precisely about the expediency of strictly following the order written in them," Kosachev said.

According to the senator, it must be clear even to diehard Russophobes in Brussels that the Minsk agreements, with which the anti-Russian sanctions are linked, are not implemented by Ukraine, "which sees them as inexpedient and at certain points as its defeat".

"Meanwhile, it is Russia that consistently insists on the exact implementation of all items in the agreements. However, tomorrow Russia will be once again punished for non-compliance with the Minsk agreements! This is absurd from the point of view of logic and common sense, which becomes especially obvious after the Paris summit," he stressed. "We are talking about huge damage for many countries, for business, for tens of thousands of workers and farmers," Kosachev added.

This damage is caused "on knowingly false grounds". "And these are no jokes any longer. Somebody will possibly have to answer for this. At least this is the case in the rule-of-law states," Kosachev summed up.

Heads of states and governments of the European Union will make a political decision to extend economic sanctions against Russia for six months, a high-ranking EU spokesperson said on the verge of the EU summit on December 12-13.

"As you are aware, sanctions against Russia are linked to implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The summit is expected to agree upon extension of restrictions for another six months," the spokesperson said.

Following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014, the European Union imposed a package of anti-Russian sanctions and suspended talks on visa-free travel and a new framework agreement on cooperation. It banned a number of Russian officials from entering the European Union and froze their assets. Apart from that, trade, financial and military restrictions were introduced. Moscow retaliated with a ban on imports of certain food products from EU countries. EU sanctions have been repeatedly extended.

Moscow sees these moves unlawful. "Russia has never been and is not a party to the conflict in Donbass," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said recently. "Russia’s status in the Contact Group is the same as that of the OSCE, while in the Normandy format - the same as that of France and Germany," he stressed.

A Normandy Four summit was held in Paris on Monday, for the first time after a three-year break. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Emmanuel Macron of Germany, Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gathered in the Elysee Palace to discuss ways of settling the conflict in Donbass.

The seven-hours talks yielded a final document committing to paper a number of concrete accords. Among the summit’s expected results was an agreement to exchange prisoners-of-war in Donbass under the formula of "all identified for all identified" by the yearend.

The summit’s participants also called for a complete and all-embracing ceasefire before the end of 2019 and agreed to support an accord within the framework of the Contact Group on the political settlement in eastern Ukraine on three additional sections of disengaging forces and weapons in the conflict area by the end of March 2020. And last but not least, the leaders agreed to continue the top-level discussion in the Normandy format in a span of four months and to use this time to make further steps towards political settlement of the conflict in Donbass.