EU warns Russia on more sanctions over Ukraine ceasefire

European powers warned Russia it risked fresh sanctions if a ceasefire deal aimed at ending the 10-month war between Ukraine troops and pro-Moscow rebels was not implemented.
The agreement to end the nearly year-long conflict, which has killed thousands and ratcheted East-West tensions to highs not seen since the Cold War, was reached early Thursday after marathon talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
Kyiv and the West accuse Russia of stoking the war in ex-Soviet Ukraine by pouring arms and troops to help the pro-Russian rebels fighting Kyiv government troops in Ukraine’s industrial east. Moscow denies the charges.
Speaking late Thursday after a European Union summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia that the bloc, which has already slapped Moscow with sanctions over the crisis, was not ruling out further measures if the truce failed.
“If it works well we would be very happy to go with the agreement. If there are difficulties we wouldn’t rule out other sanctions,” she said.
French President Francois Hollande, who along with Merkel attended the 17-hour talks in Minsk that also included Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, agreed.
If the ceasefire deal was not respected, “we would return to a process… of sanctions that would be in addition to those already in place.”
Hollande also said that the conditions were not yet right for France to resume with the delivery of two Mistral warships to Russia, a 1.2-billion-euro sale that Paris was forced to suspend over the Ukraine crisis.
Under the deal reached in Minsk, a ceasefire is to take effect at midnight Kyiv time on Sunday (2200 GMT on Saturday) and heavy weapons are to be withdrawn from the frontlines of the conflict, which has killed at least 5,300 people and driven a million people from their homes since erupting in April 2014.

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