Germany: Merkel says sanctions on Russia “can only be lifted if Crimea returns to Ukraine”

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the sanctions against Russia “in connection with Crimea can only be lifted if Crimea returns to Ukraine,” while speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Berlin on Tuesday.

“We have also talked about the Minsk process which is the framework at our disposal to restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. This is about the regions Donetsk and Luhansk and we agree that as long as there is no progress we cannot lift the sanctions,” she stated.

Zelenskiy, who is on his first official visit to Germany, praised Merkel for supporting his position on the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

“The most important issue for me, is achieving peace in Donbass. The chancellor reassured me that German position on that is unchanged, I am grateful for that. We are talking about the support for territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ukraine and maintaining sanctions on Russian Federation. It concerns both Donbass and occupied Crimea, and I am thankful for this unchanged position”, he said.

The Ukrainian leader stressed that Ukraine’s energy independence was also a key point and he was ready to discuss further with Germany how to safeguard his country and Europe’s energy security, particularly in reference to the ongoing Nord Stream II pipeline project.

Merkel also commented on the current troubles on the rising tensions between the US and Iran over the reported Gulf of Oman oil tanker attacks, saying that “we need to do everything in our power to solve the situation around the conflict with Iran in a peaceful manner.”

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