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Both Sides of Ukraine Conflict Responsible for Implementation of Minsk Deal

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Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's envoy to EU, says the sides involved in the Ukrainian conflict should be held responsible for the implementation of new peace agreements on Ukraine and not Russia. Chizhov also said that the expansion of the EU blacklist will discourage the sides of the conflict from implementing peace agreements.

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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Russia cannot be held responsible for implementation of new peace agreements on Ukraine as it is not part of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia's envoy to EU, Vladimir Chizhov, said Friday.

"It would be more logical to warn the sides of the conflict, if someone has to be warned of responsibility at all," Chizhov told reporters commenting on the results of the Thursday informal summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

"To be more precise, the warning has to be addressed to Kiev and self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine rather then to Russia, which, along with Germany and France, made titanic efforts to find political solutions to the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk.

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Russia has been routinely blamed for the unfolding conflict in eastern Ukraine, with Kiev and Brussels claiming it supplies militias in the breakaway provinces with troops and weapons. Moscow has denied this claim, citing lack of evidence, and urged the warring parties to engage in all-inclusive talks to bring peace to the country.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to the Belarusian capital Minsk to discuss a ceasefire agreement for Ukraine with its President Petro Poroshenko, France's President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The crunch talks, which lasted for 16 hours, led to a new 13-point peace plan that outlines steps for reconciliation.

Following the talks, US State Secretary John Kerry warned that Washington would judge the implementation of the new Minsk accords by Russia's actions. He said the United States could roll back painful sanctions against Moscow if the ceasefire held.

Similar calls came on Friday from Germany, France and Finland. Earlier in the day, President Hollande suggested that Normandy Four leaders hold a phone conference in a week to assess the implementation of the Minsk deal.

Expansion of the EU Blacklist Will Hamper the Implementation of Minsk Peace Plan

Chizhov also said that the planned expansion of the EU blacklist over Ukraine will discourage the sides of the Ukrainian conflict from implementing provisions of new Minsk agreements.

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An informal EU summit in Brussels on Thursday upheld its previous decision to expand and impose individual sanctions on 19 people and nine entities on February 16, according to a EU diplomatic source.

"It will not only give a signal to the Russian public opinion and force Russia to return to our own blacklists in response, but will also discourage the sides of the conflict, and I mean both sides, from actively implementing the provisions of the Minsk documents," Chizhov said.

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The European Union, the United States and their allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Moscow over its alleged role in the internal Ukrainian conflict. The measures target Russia's defense, energy and finance sectors, as well as several individuals. In August, 2014 Russia replied to the Western sanctions by introducing a year-long ban on certain agricultural exports from the states that imposed sanctions against it.

Moscow has repeatedly called the sanctions counterproductive and has taken an active stance in resolving Ukrainian crisis.

On Thursday, following the 16-hour Minsk talks on Ukrainian reconciliation between leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, a number of European countries said that the implementation of Thursday's deal will become a touchstone defining the sanctions policy toward the country.

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