European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promised that the question of abolishing EU sanctions against the Russian Federation would not be raised until the Minsk Agreements are implemented and the Donbas is de-occupied. Volodymyr Ariev, Chairman of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), relayed Juncker's statement through a Facebook post.
"The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised that the EU would not leave the East of Ukraine in the lurch, and the lifting of sanctions against Russia would not be discussed before the implementation of the Minsk agreements and de-occupation of the Donbas by Russia," he announced on his social media account. "Unfortunately, he avoided the questions on Crimea."
Ariev promised to continue raising the issue of the annexed Crimea "whenever possible, at all levels."
On December 21 last year, the European Union extended sanctions against Russia for another six months until July 31, 2018. The EU decided to continue the sanctions then (as in previous years) due to Russia's failure to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements on the settlement of the conflict in the Donbas.
The sanctions were first imposed on 31 July 2014 for a period of one year. They were brought on by Russian actions that destabilized the situation in Ukraine. Restrictive measures were increased in September 2014. In March 2015, the duration of sanctions was publicly associated with Russia's failure to adopt full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. According to the EU, Russia was expected to have fully implemented Minsk Agreement standards by the end of 2015.
The EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Japan, and several other countries have recently imposed sanctions against Russia.