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Ukraine PM Calls On EU To Keep Russia Sanctions

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talks to the press after attending meetings at the European Council in Brussels on March 19.

BRUSSELS -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on the European Union to maintain its sanctions on Russia and to step them up if Moscow fails to implement the agreement reached last month in Minsk on ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Yatsenyuk, speaking in Brussels on March 19 after talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, also urged unity over the bloc's Russian sanctions policy, saying lack of agreement among EU member states would be "the biggest success story for [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and this will be a disaster for the free world."

EU leaders are expected to decide later on March 19 whether to extend current economic sanctions against Russia until December or to postpone the decision until the sanctions are about to expire in June.

Yatsenyuk also voiced hope that the EU would support the idea of sending peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine, where the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed rebels has killed more than 6,000 people since April 2014.

Ukraine's parliament passed a resolution March 18 calling on the EU and the United Nations to deploy a peacekeeping force to eastern Ukraine to secure the implementation of the truce agreement reached on February 12 in Minsk.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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