The European Union could launch a process of partially lifting its sanctions imposed on Russia in a week, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing a source in EU institutions.
A decision concerning all further measures will be adopted at a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the EU in Brussels on September 30, the source said.
However, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, was unable to confirm to Kommersant that such a sanctions review could start on September 30.
The EU foreign policy service has until September 30 to present the Committee of Permanent Representatives with a comprehensive report regarding the implementation of the Minsk peace plan for eastern Ukraine, including the ceasefire, Kocijancic said. This report is now being prepared, she added.
According to Kommersant's EU institution source, after studying the report and discussing it in their capitals, the permanent representatives will have to make a decision on whether or not to lift the sanctions introduced against Russia. The best-case scenario is that the permanent representatives may speak out in favor of gradually lifting part of these sanctions.
The European Union has imposed nine packages of sanctions on Russia since March 17, targeting 119 individuals, 23 legal entities, the Russian energy sector, finances and the defense industry. In almost all nine packages, some of the sanctions were introduced in response to Crimea's reconnection with Russia, which the EU has described as an "annexation".
According to Kommersant's source, these measures will remain in effect "even if the situation is Donbas is resolved."
However, EU officials have reiterated more than once that a key condition for reviewing the sanctions is the successful implementation of agreements to resolve the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, one of the central points of the peace plan, which envisages international monitoring of the ceasefire, is already being implemented - monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have entered the buffer zone in eastern Ukraine, Kommersant said.
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