The leaders of the G7 countries, meeting in Japan this week, have made a joint statement reaffirming their position that the duration of sanctions on Russia should be clearly linked to Russia’s fulfilment of its obligations under the Minsk peace agreement (see previous blog). In addition, they stated that they “stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase the cost on Russia should its actions so require”. The EU’s trade and economic sanctions on Crimea/Sevastopol and Russia are due for renewal in June & July this year.
However, the leaders of the G7 also said that they “recognise the importance of maintaining dialogue with Russia”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she had some “hope” of progress, and US President Barack Obama added that “we’ve started to see some progress in negotiations”, although he cautioned that “we’re still seeing too much violence”. On Tuesday this week, 7 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in Eastern Ukraine following clashes with pro-Russia forces.