23:36 GMT20 April 2021
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    BERLIN (Sputnik) - The COVID-19 pandemic could be the basis for considering the issue of lifting European sanctions against Russia, Matthias Platzeck, the board chairman of the German-Russian Forum and a former minister-president of Germany's Brandenburg, said on Monday during a video conference in Berlin.

    "Perhaps, this coronavirus pandemic could at least be an occasion to re-evaluate and say: if the sanctions have not changed anything in the direction we wanted over a half of a decade, and we have the opposite effect instead, then we should be able to assess this development and say that, perhaps, new approaches are needed," Platzeck said.

    According to Platzeck, an approach to the sanctions against Russia bundling together the Crimean issue and the conflict in eastern Ukraine is wrong.

    "I can imagine that if such a distinction is made, progress will be made in this area. In the end, we all say this, we can hear it from all sides — the coronavirus pandemic has become the biggest challenge to the world community since World War II. It may be necessary to have the strength and courage to reconsider things that are of primary importance, and I include these sanctions among them. And say: we have other problems now, let's take a step forward," he added.

    The European Union imposed sanctions against Moscow in 2014 in the wake of the outbreak of conflict in eastern Ukraine and the successful referendum on Crimea's reunification with Russia. While Western countries and Kiev have not recognized Crimea's new status and accused Moscow of meddling in Ukraine's affairs, Moscow has denied any interference claims and insisted that the referendum was carried out in line with international law.

    COVID-19, sanctions, Germany, Russia
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