German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have urged the imposition of new sanctions against Russia for the inability to maintain a ceasefire in the conflict with Kiev. The two leaders spoke two days ahead of a European Union meeting establishing Ukraine’s association with the EU.
“It will be necessary to extend the sanctions against Russia again, although we would have wished for better progress in the implementation of this process,” Merkel said at a Franco-German conference in Berlin, where she was joined by Hollande on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The establishment of a ceasefire between the Russia and Ukraine has been “very sluggish,” the German leader added.
Separatist leaders near Ukraine’s border with Russia declared a unilateral ceasefire on Sept. 1, the first of such efforts by the rebels — a group known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, for the border town where pro-Moscow sentiment is strong — since the 2014 Minsk agreement. Russia backed the weeklong peace declaration, while French and German foreign ministers praised the conflict’s temporary halt, which was intended to coincide with the start of the Ukrainian school year.
Still, just five days after the ceasefire, Kiev officials said one soldier and one rebel had been killed. Rebels had fired mortars at Ukrainian troops near the city of Mariupol, the Associated Press reported. More recently, late November peace talks between German, French, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers, ended unsuccessfully.