It is unclear if Russia sanctions will be renewed: German Foreign Minister

By Reuters   May 31, 2016 | 05:30 pm GMT+7
It is unclear if Russia sanctions will be renewed: German Foreign Minister
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during his visit in Karyes, the administrative centre of the all-male Orthodox monastic community of Mount Athos, Greece, May 28, 2016. : REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday it was no secret that some EU states were sceptical about extending sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and it was unclear if the 28-nation bloc would decide to renew them.

"The sanctions are there to ensure a political solution. I don't know what the European Council will decide on Russia sanctions," Steinmeier told reporters.

The energy, financial and defence sanctions against Russia, introduced over Moscow's role in the conflict in Ukraine, expire in July.

He also said he hoped the release of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko from a Russian jail last week would "bring a new dynamic into the talks between Russia and Ukraine". 

Speaking of Brexit, German Foreign Minister said a vote by Britain to leave the European Union in a referendum next month would create "a negative dynamic" among the bloc's member states.

"I would like Britain to remain in the EU. I think there are good reasons for Britain to remain in the EU," Steinmeier said, adding it was up to British voters to decide.

"I am only sure that if Britain decides to leave, that will initiate a negative dynamic in the rest of the EU," he said.