BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her displeasure over Russia's role in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday and said there is no reason yet to lift European Union sanctions.
Russia supported rebel-organized elections in eastern Ukraine that the West says undermine a much-violated cease-fire deal signed in Minsk in September.
Merkel said her aim remains a diplomatic solution, but the weekend's events show "how difficult it is even to maintain agreements that have been made, if we look at the illegal elections."
"Russia isn't yet contributing in the way we would like, particularly regarding Luhansk and Donetsk" in eastern Ukraine, Merkel told a conference held by the German employers' organization in Berlin. "The Minsk agreement should be the basis. So the economic sanctions were inevitable and there is no reason at the moment to lift them."
New EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was quoted in an interview with several European newspapers published Tuesday as standing by the sanctions, but saying that it's unclear how much influence they will have.
While their effect on the Russian economy is clear to everyone, "the real point is, is that going to be the element that is going to change significantly the Russian political attitude towards the crisis?" she said, according to the Guardian.
"This is still an open question mark and the answer is only in the hands of the Russian authorities," she added. Mogherini made clear it's important to stick to the Minsk process.