Merkel, Hollande back extended Russia sanctions over Ukraine

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday they favour extending EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, ahead of a Brussels summit where the issue will be discussed.
Merkel said that given grave shortcomings in the Ukraine peace process, which has been marred by regular ceasefire violations, “it will be necessary to extend sanctions against Russia once more”.
Hollande, speaking at a joint Berlin press conference with Merkel, agreed there had been insufficient progress in implementing the Minsk peace agreements.
“Since there hasn t been an effort made, no progress, and the same blockages remain, I, like the chancellor, am in favour of extending sanctions,” he said.
Hollande agreed. “We must continue to apply the terms of the Minsk agreement and when they are not carried out, we must continue with sanctions,” he said.
The sanctions were extended several times and are due to expire at the end of January.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia of stoking the separatist movement and aiding the rebels. The Kremlin denies these charges and accuses Ukraine of perpetuating the violence and violating the Minsk deal.