BERLIN (Sputnik) — German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel believes that sanctions against Russia may be loosened in case of successful implementation of the initiative on deployment of UN peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine.
Gabriel pointed out that earlier this week, the issue of peacekeepers' deployment had been discussed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Now we need to quickly launch negotiations in New York [UN]. In case of talks success and if we can implement [the plan] quickly, we should also move to easing of the initial sanctions [against Russia]," Gabriel told Spiegel Online in an interview published on Thursday.
Gabriel added that "a year and a day ago" he had proposed easing anti-Russian sanctions in case of a phased implementation the Minsk agreement.
In early September, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support for the idea of sending lightly armed peacekeepers to Ukraine in order to ensure the security of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission in Donbass. He stressed that the peacekeepers should operate only along the front line.
However, Kyiv insisted that the mission should patrol the whole conflict zone including the Ukrainian-Russian border.
Putin also said the issue should be decided in direct contact with representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he was ready to discuss the deployment of such a mission in the region, albeit without Russia's participation, with the UN Security Council. He also stressed that Kiev would not coordinate the parameters for UN peacekeepers' work in Donbass with local militias. Kiev and Moscow prepared separate draft resolutions for the UN Security Council on peacekeepers in the Donbass region.
Kiev launched a military operation in the east of Ukraine in 2014, after local residents refused to recognize the new government that came to power then. The ceasefire agreement was reached in Minsk in 2015, brokered by the leaders of the Normandy Four group, but the situation has remained tense.
The European Union and the Unites States imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and extended them several times. Moscow has repeatedly denied all allegations and introduced retaliatory restrictions on food import.