The European Union may decide to consider the possibility of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia if the latest Minsk peace accords are promptly implemented, French Ambassador to Russia Jean-Maurice Ripert told Interfax.
"If everything goes well, if the points calling for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the launch of a political process are implemented, there will be no reason to consider any additional sanctions," the ambassador said.
"But if this process moves forward at a rapid pace, the possibility of lifting the sanctions introduced earlier may appear," he said.
"And, the other way round, if the Minsk process is disrupted at the very beginning, and if we become convinced that, regrettably, Russia has played a role in this failure, in this case Europe will again consider new sanctions. But the situation now is different," Ripert said.
"Today the question is not about sanctions. Rather, it is all about the implementation of the Minsk agreements, the observance of a ceasefire and the suspension of hostilities," he said.
"We are already at a post-Minsk stage. Let's try to take a positive look at the situation. There is a chance of peace in Ukraine thanks to the French-German initiative and the contribution of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and [Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko," the ambassador said.
"Mr. Hollande [French President Francois Hollande] and Mrs. Merkel [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] have day-to-day contact with President Poroshenko and President Putin. All of them are committed to implementing these agreements. This is what counts most today," Ripert said.
"As far as France is concerned, it is absolutely obvious that we ought to do everything in our power to stop the gap between Russia and Europe from growing," he said.
"We, Europeans, need Russia just as Russia needs Europe for the sake of peace, security and well-being in our continent. It means that we will do everything we can to make sure that the peaceful settlement in Ukraine gives a fresh impetus to the dialogue and cooperation between Russia and the European Union," he said.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics do not rule out they may be part of Ukraine if every provision of the Minsk agreements is observed.
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