March 14, 2015 / 6:48 PM / in 3 years

Germany wants Russia to comply with Ukraine peace deal before sanctions eased: sources

A man checks his mobile phone in front of his destroyed house in the town of Debaltseve, north-east from Donetsk, March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany and other countries want European Union leaders to endorse a declaration saying that EU sanctions on Russia will not be eased unless Moscow complies with a Ukraine ceasefire deal, two officials said on Saturday.

EU leaders, who meet in Brussels next Thursday and Friday, will discuss the sanctions imposed on Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors last July over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Ukraine.

The ceasefire deal, which was signed last September in Minsk, called for an end to hostilities between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line.

“It is the plan to have a political declaration to link sanctions to fulfillment of Minsk,” said one of the two officials, who asked not to be named.

Germany and some others EU countries were in favor of such a declaration, the officials said, without giving further details.

If EU leaders decide to back this stance, it would effectively extend the sanctions, which expire in July, to the end of the year, as the ceasefire deal requires the restoration of Ukrainian border controls with Russia by year-end.

EU leaders have to be unanimous in their decision to extend sanctions, but a senior EU official said on Friday that they were unlikely to reach a decision at next week’s summit.

Some EU governments have only reluctantly backed tough EU sanctions and most want to leave them as they are while they assess the impact of the ceasefire agreement.

Reporting By Andreas Rinke in Berlin and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Writing by John O'Donnell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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