Ukrainian PM warns West not to lift Russia sanctions
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Saturday urged the West not to lift sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict unless the Minsk peace deal is fully implemented.
His call came ahead of a meeting of the foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France in Berlin to prepare for a summit to be held in Paris in early October.
"If you send mixed signals to Putin, for example that we contemplate an idea to lift sanctions.... this is the weakness," Yatsenyuk said at the international Yalta European Strategy conference in Kiev.
"This is the way... actually to underpin and support Putin in his aggression against Ukraine," Yatsenyuk said in a speech in English.
"Sanctions could be lifted only in one case, if Minsk is fully implemented, if Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea (are) back (in Ukraine)."
By annexing Crimea in March 2014 and supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, "Russia undermined and violated an international law," Yatsenyuk said.
"It's entirely unacceptable when a P5 (permanent United Nations Security Council) member constantly violates the UN charter," Yatsenyuk said of Russia.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia of sending regular troops and weapons to aid the separatists in the east, where nearly 8,000 people have died in the conflict since April 2014. Moscow has always denied involvement.
In the conflict zone, a total ceasefire was announced starting September 1, and so far appears to be holding.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed "cautious optimism" on the current truce.
Yatsenyuk nevertheless on Saturday stressed that he has always been "sceptical" about the Minsk peace deal signed in February after it was brokered by France and Germany.
He also said he believed it was unlikely that Russia will retreat.
"There is no good solution for Putin, so if he goes and says 'look we decided to leave Donetsk and Lugansk', he is politically dead in Russia," Yatsenyuk said, referring to the rebel-controlled regions.
Conversely, if Putin backs an offensive against the Ukrainian army, "trying to grab more land, he is dead in the world," he said.
© 2015 AFP