U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes Washington may be able to consider lifting sanctions it imposed on Russia over its involvement in violence in Ukraine later this year if Moscow complies with the Minsk peace deal.
In a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 22, Kerry said that he and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had meet this week in the Swiss resort with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to help ensure full implementation of the agreements.
Kerry said, "with effort and with bona-fide legitimate intent to solve the problem on both sides, it is possible in these next months to find those Minsk agreements implemented and to get to a place where sanctions can be appropriately -- because of the full implementation -- removed."
Washington links a lifting of the sanctions to full implementation of the Minsk accords, which were agreed to last February by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany after the collapse of a cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
The terms of the deal provide for a cease-fire, a pullback of heavy weapons, prisoner exchanges, local elections in rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine, and greater autonomy for these regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview this month the sanctions were "severely harming Russia."
The sanctions have reportedly shaved about 1.5 percent off of Russian economic output in 2015.
Based on reporting by Reuters and Bloomberg.com