MOSCOW, January 5 (Sputnik) – French President Francois Hollande aims at de-escalating tensions existing between Russia and the European Union (EU) over the crisis in Ukraine, unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a senior Russian lawmaker said Monday.
Earlier in the day, Hollande stated that the sanctions against Russia must be lifted now, as he did not support the "policy of attaining goals by making things worse." He also expressed hope that further progress on the Ukrainian situation would be reached during the future reconciliation talks on January 15 in Astana.
"Unlike Merkel, who lost the role of Moscow's main partner at the [reconciliation] talks, Hollande has chosen a policy line aiming to de-escalate the tensions existing between the EU and Russia," Alexei Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's Parliament, posted to his Twitter account.
In November 2014, Merkel said that sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis would not be lifted as long as the situation in eastern Ukraine remained unsolved.
During 2014 the EU, the US and a number of other countries imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia. Western actions toward Moscow have been criticized by EU citizens in a number of countries, particularly by politicians, businessmen and public figures in Germany, where a large portion of the country's commerce is conducted with Russia.