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Merkel: ‘Will Not Consider’ Russia Sanctions Relief Until Progress In Eastern Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the EU is not ready to consider easing sanctions on Russia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says European Union sanctions on Moscow will remain in place until a sustainable cease-fire is achieved in Ukraine under the so-called Minsk accords.

"Before the Minsk agreement has been implemented or progress has been made in that regard, we will not consider lifting sanctions on Russia," Merkel told reporters on September 14 in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

"Restoring peace and territorial integrity of Ukraine remains our goal," she said.

Sanctions were imposed against Russia for its support for separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

Sanctions were also slapped on Moscow for its seizure and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

The United States also set similar sanctions.

Russia denies involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, although the United States and the West have provided evidence that Moscow has provided military, economic, and political support to the breakaway movements in the region.

Germany and France helped broker cease-fire deals as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict – but they have failed to hold.

During her trip to Lithuania, Merkel also visited German troops deployed to the Baltic country as part of NATO’s force stationed in the region to reassure allies in the face of a more aggressive Russian foreign policy.

"We are proud that you are here," she said during a speech at the barracks in Rukla.

Germany has some 450 soldiers in Lithuania. Russia has complained that the NATO presence on its borders is a provocation.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa