KIEV (AFP) -European powers war-ned Russia it risked fresh sanctions if a ceasefire deal aimed at ending the 10-month war between Ukraine troops and pro-Moscow rebels was not implemented.
The agreement to end the nearly year-long conflict, which has killed thousands and ratcheted East-West tensions to highs not seen since the Cold War, was reached early Thurs-day after marathon talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Fran-ce and Germany. Kiev and the West accuse Russia of stoking the war in ex-Soviet Ukraine by pouring arms and troops to help the pro-Russian rebels fighting Kiev government troops in Ukraine’s industrial east. Moscow denies the charges.
Speaking late Thursday after a European Union summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia that the bloc, which has already slapped Moscow with sanctions over the crisis, was not ru-ling out further measures if the
truce failed. “If it works well we would be very happy to go with the agreement. If there are difficulties
we wouldn’t rule out other sanc-tions,” she said.
French President Francois Hol-lande, who along with Merkel atten-ded the 17-hour talks in Minsk that also included Russian President Vla-dimir Putin and Ukrainian Presi-dent Petro Poroshenko, agreed. If the ceasefire deal was not respected, “we would return to a process… of sanctions that would be in addition to those already in place”.
Hollande also said that the con-ditions were not yet right for Fran-ce to resume with the delivery of two Mistral warships to Russia, a 1.2-billion-euro sale that Paris was forced to suspend over the Ukraine crisis.