Germany names conditions for lifting Russia sanctions
The Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its military offensive in Ukraine will not be lifted unless Moscow withdraws its troops from the neighboring country, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said.
In an interview with Bild on Sunday, Baerbock explained that “a ceasefire can only be a first step” when it comes to removing the penalties.
“It is clear to us that the sanctions can only be lifted if Russia withdraws its troops,” she said, adding that “peace on terms dictated by Russia” will not bring security to Ukraine or Europe. “At worst, it would be an invitation to the next war – even closer to our borders.”
Baerbock said the Russian attack on Ukraine has “irretrievably shattered” the peace in Europe, and that “there is no going back” to the times before February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the “special military operation,” despite earlier assurances from his government that no attack against Ukraine was being planned.
“We can never again rely on Putin’s promises alone,” Baerbock said. She added that the international community has the responsibility to ensure that Ukraine is strong enough to make its own decisions.
“It is Ukrainians who are dying in this war and who are threatened with oppression and tyranny under Russian occupation. No one has the right to dictate to them,” she said.
Since the launch of the military operation in Ukraine, the EU has approved five packages of sanctions against Moscow, and is now considering the sixth. The restrictions, which apply to various sectors of the Russian economy, are viewed by Moscow as “unlawful” and “unjustified.”
Russia sent its troops to Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.