Merkel Hesitant To Ease Russia Sanctions

Merkel Hesitant To Ease Russia SanctionsMerkel Hesitant To Ease Russia Sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel set strict terms Thursday for easing EU sanctions on Russia as the 28-nation bloc unlocked new aid to help Ukraine overcome its revolt.

The announcements came with Europe -- teetering on the brink of a new recession -- thinking of scaling back steps that both failed to soften Russia’s hard line on Ukraine and considerably damaged its own economy, AFP reported.

The threat of seeing Russia absolved saw Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk jet to Berlin to urge Merkel -- seen as one of the West’s savviest Kremlin handlers -- to keep the pressure on Vladimir Putin at crisis talks next week.

Merkel made clear after hosting the 40-year-old Kiev cabinet leader that Moscow must meet every point of a truce it cosigned in September before gaining back access to EU capital markets it lost last year.

“I think we need to see the entire Minsk agreement implemented before we can say that sanctions will be lifted,” said Merkel.

The Belarussian pact required Russia to withdraw troops from eastern Ukraine it denies having ever sent in the first place. The ceasefire was followed by 1,300 more deaths and never settled the rebels’ separatist claim.

Ukrainian defense minister Stepan Poltorak estimated that there were currently 7,500 members of Russian soldiers backing up the insurgent gunmen.

The nine-month mutiny has now killed 4,700 people and left Ukraine -- stripped of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea by Russia in March -- in danger of also losing its industrial heartland and resource base.