The German and Austrian foreign ministers said the EU sanctions against Russia should be phased out, abandoning the earlier position that sanctions can be lifted only when the Minsk peace plan would be fully implemented. 


Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama said last week that Washington and Brussels are united on the issue of preservation of sanctions against Russia to the full implementation of the obligations under the Minsk agreements.


On July 1, the Council of the European Union has formally renewed economic sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2017. The Foreign Ministry said that the ties of the decision with the implementation of the Minsk agreements is absurd.


Before that, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the extension of retaliatory sanctions imposed in response to Western sanctions, from August 6, 2016 to December 31, 2017.


Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated over the situation in Ukraine. The EU and the United States have moved from the smart sanctions against certain individuals and companies to the measures against entire sectors of the Russian economy. In response, Russia has restricted imports of food products from countries that have imposed sanctions against her: USA, EU, Canada, Australia and Norway.