US Extends Sanctions Against Russia, EU Ready to Follow Suit
EU leaders and US President Barack Obama expressed readiness on Tuesday to extend the sanctions against Russia in case the Minsk ceasefire is further violated.
This happened at a video conference between Obama and the leaders of Germany, France, UK, Italy and European Council President Donald Tusk, EurActiv reports.
The other participants in the video conference were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian PM Matteo Renzi.
Meanwhile Washington approved a one-year extension of the current individual restrictions which include asset freezes and travel bans targeting Russian government officials and people considered to be in Russian President Putin's "inner circle."
Although violence has decreased since the Minsk ceasefire entered into force on February 15, it has not come to a complete halt in some parts of eastern Ukraine.
According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, Obama used the call to condemn Russia and the separatists for not fulfilling their commitments, which had been agreed in Minsk.
The Western leaders agreed to support the full implementation of the Minsk agreements as well as to strengthen the OSCE's ability and capacity to monitor their implementation.
Earlier on Monday, European leaders had agreed that the OSCE needs broader role as observer of the ceasefire and removal of heavy weapons.
During their video conference on Tuesday, the Western leaders also agreed on continuing their support for reforms in Ukraine and the country's economy.
Meanwhile, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey announced at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, that the US should “absolutely” consider providing lethal weapons to Ukraine.
The Obama administration later released a press statement saying that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660 with respect to Ukraine will be extended beyond 6 March 2015.
The US President justified his decision with the actions and policies of the Russian government, which continued to threaten Ukraine's peace, security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Obama also condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, which continued to pose threat to the national security and foreign policy of the US.
As regards the situation in Libya, the leaders expressed concern for the deteriorating situation and readiness to discuss the issue further.
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