May 31, 2016 / 10:27 AM / a year ago

German foreign minister says unclear if Russia sanctions will be renewed

Russian military helicopters fly in formation, with warships seen on the water, during celebrations for Navy Day in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, July 26, 2015. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday it was no secret that some EU states were skeptical about extending sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and it was unclear if the 28-nation bloc would decide to renew them.

“The sanctions are there to ensure a political solution. I don’t know what the European Council will decide on Russia sanctions,” Steinmeier told reporters.

The energy, financial and defense sanctions against Russia, introduced over Moscow’s role in the conflict in Ukraine, expire in July.

He also said he hoped the release of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko from a Russian jail last week would “bring a new dynamic into the talks between Russia and Ukraine”.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr and Paul Carrel; Writing by Madeline Chambers

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