In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the gradual lifting of sanctions against Russia should be linked with the process of resolving the situation in the Donbas.
“When I was a foreign minister, I believed that it was necessary to link the gradual lifting of sanctions against Russia with positive steps towards Ukraine – something that former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed. The first step would imply establishing a real ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine,” the chancellor said.
According to Kurz, there has been very little progress in terms of such a truce over the past months.
On December 29, the EU extended the anti-Russian economic sanctions to July 31, 2019.
These sanctions were originally imposed on July 31, 2014 for a one-year period in response to Russia’s actions to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. The sanctions were strengthened in September 2014. On March 19, 2015, the European Council linked the duration of the sanctions with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.