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LUEBECK, Germany, April 15 (Reuters) - Western sanctions against Russia can only be lifted once Moscow fulfills the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk in February and respects Ukraine's sovereignty, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven foreign ministers said in Germany on Wednesday.
"The G7 underlines the close linkage between full implementation of the Minsk Agreements and international sanctions," they said in a joint communique at the end of their meeting in the northern German city of Luebeck.
"Sanctions are not an end in themselves; their duration should be clearly linked to Russia's complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine's sovereignty."
The ministers welcomed Ukraine and Russia taking the first steps towards implementing the ceasefire but said there was a "need for substantial and rapid progress on outstanding elements".
They called on all parties to fulfill the agreement and urged "further and verifiable progress" towards respecting a ceasefire and withdrawing heavy weapons. Russia should make use of its "considerable influence" on the separatists, they said. (Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)