Top officials hail ‘progress’ on Ukraine deal

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Progress has been made on some contentious issues in the peace process, the foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France said after holding talks in Berlin on Saturday to prepare for a summit in Paris on Oct. 2.
Germany’s top diplomat, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the meeting had been “less confrontational” than previous ones and that the warring sides were now “very close” to an agreement on withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline.
But Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged the West not to lift sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict unless the Minsk peace deal is fully implemented.
Yatsenyuk earlier Saturday told the West that Russia needed to fully respect the peace deal before there could be any talk of easing sanctions.
“If you send mixed signals to (President Vladimir) Putin, for example that we contemplate an idea to lift sanctions…. this is the weakness,” Yatsenyuk said at the international Yalta European Strategy conference in Kiev.
“This is the way… actually to underpin and support Putin in his aggression against Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk said in a speech in English.
“Sanctions could be lifted only in one case, if Minsk is fully implemented, if Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea (are) back (in Ukraine).” By annexing Crimea in March 2014 and supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, “Russia undermined and violated an international law,” Yatsenyuk said.

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