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EU's Tusk 'Quite Sure' Russia Sanctions Will Be Extended

President of the European Council Donald Tusk

President of the European Council Donald Tusk

EU Council President Donald Tusk says he is "quite sure" that the bloc will renew its economic sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine "in the next two or three weeks without huge discussions."

"I want to state clearly that our stance vis-a-vis Russia, including economic sanctions, will remain unchanged as long as the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented," Tusk also said on May 26 ahead of a G7 summit in Japan.

There have been calls on the EU to drop the measures, with French lawmakers adopting a nonbinding resolution last month calling for a lifting of the sanctions targeting Russia's oil, defense, and banking sectors.

The Minsk deal signed in February 2015 has helped reduce fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, but sporadic clashes have continued. The conflict has killed more than 9,300 people since April 2014.

In an interview released on May 26, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the EU was facing difficult talks on extending the measures due to the resistance of some member states

"It will be more difficult than it was last year to find a common position on this issue," Steinmeier told the Baltic News Service.

The EU sanctions, which were adopted in 2014 in response to Russia's occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, are due to expire at the end of July.

With reporting by AFP