France and Germany want to ease European Union sanctions on Russia, after it has repeatedly refused to comply with treaty obligations it made at the second Minsk conference in February 2015.
The Minsk treaty calls for a complete battlefield ceasefire, admittance of international monitors, and Russian restoration of Ukraine’s former border. None of these conditions have been met in the 16 months since Russia, Ukraine, and Pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine agreed to the treaty.
The European Union has agreed to extend the sanctions for another six months, but the support of Italy and France in the next round of sanctions extension are tenuous.
“Discussion along with the renewing of sanctions and that should focus on what do we do if there is progress,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told The Wall Street Journal. Ayrault elaborated that easing sanctions would be seen as a positive sign by Russia encouraging gradual compliance with the treaty.