BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Moscow has repeatedly insisted that Russia is not party to the Ukrainian internal conflict, but the broker of the Minsk agreements implementation along with France and Germany.
"It depends on the situation on the ground and the capacity to go further in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. It is not just possible for Russia [alone] to make some progress on [the implementation of Minsk agreements]. Of course, there are people on the ground, there are also people in Kiev, and we ask… the Kiev authorities to organize reforms and to make progresses," Reynders said at a joint press conference with Lavrov, when asked about the prospects of lifting of Western economic sanctions against Moscow.
Kiev launched a special military operation in Ukraine’s southeast in April 2014, after local residents refused to recognize the new Ukrainian authorities, which came to power as a result of a coup. In February 2015, the two sides reached a peace agreement after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Format — in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Kiev has been reluctant to implement a number of Minsk deal provisions.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Brussels, Washington and their allies have introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions since Crimea became part of Russia in 2014 and over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability.