Ukraine progress should favoured sanctions imposed on Russia: Sigmar Gabriel

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel gives an economic outlook for 2017 in Berlin, Germany, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Vastavam web: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday he favoured easing some sanctions imposed on Russia if a ceasefire could be implemented in eastern Ukraine with the help of U.N. peacekeepers.He said he realised his view differed from the official position – that sanctions could only be eased when the Minsk peace accord was fully implemented – but said it was in the world’s interests to break the current impasse.

While the Kremlin denies providing military support for separatists there, the European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia for backing the rebels and for annexing Crimea from Ukraine.Gabriel said that, while there were fundamental differences over that plan, it was “one of the few realistic options” for trying to end the violence, and Germany would push for progress on it at the United Nations.

“We need progress urgently because the world is becoming more dangerous,” Gabriel told a meeting also attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a Security Conference in Munich.Gabriel, a former economy minister, and Lavrov said they aimed to expand bilateral trade, which rose 20 percent last year.

The two ministers are due to hold a face-to-face meeting later on Saturday, but plans for a four-way meeting on the Ukraine crisis on Friday also including France and Ukraine collapsed after a scheduling conflict.He said Germany intended to ensure continued use of the existing transit pipeline through Ukraine, and he believed Russia was open to that possibility.The United States would continue to oppose the pipeline, said U.S. Energy Department Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

“It is pretty clear that there is no economic basis for (it For Europe’s national security, we feel that is a very dangerous proposition,” he told reporters in Munich.