U.S. President Barack Obama says the European Union should maintain current sanctions against Russia until it implements a cease-fire and peace deal agreed in Minsk in February to end the fighting in Ukraine.
"At a minimum we have to maintain the existing sanction levels until we've seen that they've carried out the steps that they're required to under the agreement," Obama told an April 17 news conference in Washington.
He said that “both Russia and the Ukraine must fulfill all the obligations” of the Minsk agreement.
UN officials say a dire human rights situation in parts of eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv has battled Moscow-backed separatists in a brutal year-long conflict, is likely to deteriorate further because of violations of the accord.
Obama added that "the international community needs to continue supporting Ukraine with robust assistance as it pursues economic and political reforms."
With reporting by Reuters