"Russia deviates, it’s undeniable. But that’s because we initially had wrong policies toward Russia. The sanctions led to the tightening of Russia’s policy," Fillon said in an interview with the Europe 1 radio station, adding that the sanctions needed to be lifted for Russia to change its policy.
"Europe must play its part and make every party fulfill the conditions of the agreements. But we need to talk to Russia," Fillon stressed.
Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated because of disagreements over the crisis in Ukraine. After a referendum in Crimea, which led to the peninsula’s reunification with Russia in 2014, the European Union, alongside the United States, imposed sanctions against Moscow. Western states have also accused the Kremlin of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, with Moscow repeatedly denying the allegations.
On December 19, 2016, the European Council prolonged the economic sanctions against Russia by six months, until July 31, 2017. Following the move, on January 13, then-US President Barack Obama extended the US anti-Russia sanctions by one year, until March 2018.
Moscow has repeatedly underlined that tying the issue of sanctions to the Minsk agreements is absurd since Russia is not a party to the Donbas conflict.