EU delays sanctions on Russia awaiting Minsk negotiations

Efforts to set up Ukraine peace talks this week remain on track, despite US scepticism over whether a deal can be reached.
President Barack Obama has refused to rule out sending arms to Ukraine, but has indicated he is willing to see if German-led efforts to broker a ceasefire succeed before making his choice.
Hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House for crisis talks on Monday, Obama voiced scepticism about whether a deal can be reached with Russia to end 10 months of bloodshed.
Steep Western sanctions have helped cripple Russia’s economy, but have failed to dissuade Vladimir Putin’s government from supporting and arming Ukranian rebels.
“My hope is that through these diplomatic efforts those costs have become high enough that Mr Putin’s preferred option is for a diplomatic resolution,” Obama said.
“I won’t prejudge whether or not they’ll be successful,” he added.
“If they are not, then we will want to raise the costs. And we will not relent in that.”
Obama indicated that further sanctions and controversial “lethal defence” assistance for Ukraine are on the table, making a tacit distinction between defensive weapons and offensive weapons that would allow Kiev to take the fight to Russian-backed rebels.
Merkel has opposed sending any arms, warning it would further escalate a war that Ukraine cannot win against much larger Russian forces.
But she acknowledged that a drive to reach a ceasefire deal with Putin – even after he reneged on previous agreements – may not succeed.

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