19:17 GMT17 February 2020
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    According to the Italian foreign minister, the EU can discuss easing or even lifting the anti-Russian sanctions in June.

    ROME (Sputnik) — The European Union could discuss the lifting or easing of sanctions imposed on Russia in June if the Minsk deal on Ukrainian reconciliation is implemented properly, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

    "In June we will evaluate the implementation of Minsk agreements. If the implementation status is sufficient, then we will be glad to lift the sanctions, or at least to reduce them," Gentiloni told La Stampa newspaper in an interview.

    He added that evaluating the Minsk deal implementation status was premature at the moment.

    In 2014, relations between Russia and the West deteriorated over Crimea's reunification with Russia and Moscow's alleged involvement into the escalation of the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, which Moscow has denied. The European Union, as well as the United States and some other countries, imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia's energy, banking and defense industries.

    Parts of eastern Ukraine has been suffering from a humanitarian crisis, caused by a military operation launched by the Kiev authorities in April 2014 against local militias. The latter refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power in 2014 after what they consider to be a coup.

    In February 2015, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France gathered in the Belarusian capital of Minsk and worked out a deal on Ukrainian reconciliation, which includes a ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine and constitutional reforms. Both Kiev authorities and eastern Ukraine militias signed the agreement.


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