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Germany's Merkel to press Ukraine peace talks after Russian election logo 3/12/2018

Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a renewed push for peace in Ukraine as conflicting sides fail to live up to the Minsk agreements. The optimistic tone comes as the EU renewed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she hoped to relaunch peace talks over Ukraine following Sunday's Russian election, which Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

"I am confident that after the election in Russia next Sunday we can have a fresh impetus and we can see how we can achieve qualitative progress in the Minsk process," Merkel told reporters Monday.

Read more: Putin's certain victory: What you need to know about the Russian presidential election

The 2015 Minsk peace accords – brokered between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany – have failed to end fighting in eastern Ukraine that has killed 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

Merkel also said she supported the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to eastern Ukraine.

Read more: Ukraine: The forgotten victims of Donbass

Without steps towards a peace process in Ukraine, EU sanctions against Russia will not be lifted, Merkel added.

"I would first like to see a few steps and then we could talk about the sanctions issue, but they would have to be important steps," she said.

Earlier Monday, the EU renewed a six-month extension of sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

In Kyiv, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Ukraine to implement anti-corruption reforms demanded by international creditors.

Read more: Ukraine's Poroshenko has a transparency problem in Germany

German-Russian trade picking up sharply

© picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Schreiber

The EU threw its support behind Ukraine after the 2013-14 Maidan protests led to the ousting of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.

But the EU has become frustrated at the slow pace of reforms in Ukraine and widespread corruption.

"There is no fatigue in our support for Ukraine, also because we have seen results," Mogherini said, urging Kyiv to pass strong anti-corruption laws.

cw/kms (AFP, dpa)

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