Tallahassee Journal

Russia tensions rise as France urges end to sanctions

Russia tensions rise as France urges end to sanctions

French President Francois Hollande has called on the West to end sanctions against Russia but as the streets of Moscow sees an increase in angry protests, there is no sign that tensions are calming down any time soon. Hollande said in an interview Monday that sanctions placed on Russia by Europe, the U.S. and Canada for its role in intervening in Ukraine, could be lifted if there is progress in talks between European leaders and Russia this month.476616659-russian-president-vladimir-putin-looks-on-during-a.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge

“I think the sanctions must stop now. They must be lifted if there is progress. If there is no progress the sanctions will remain,” he told France Inter radio station. Hollande added that he believed Putin would not look to ratchet up tensions further, saying the Russian President “doesn’t want to annex eastern Ukraine – he told me that.”

There have been recent signs that the West is ready to extend an olive branch to Russia, should Putin change tack from his increasingly nationalistic, anti-Western stance. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted in December, that sanctions could be lifted at any time depending on the “choices” that Putin makes. Meanwhile, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has also warned against further sanctions on Russia, telling the Bild Am Sonntag newspaper this weekend that Europe wanted to resolve the Ukraine crisis and not to “push Russia onto its knees.”

Attention is now focused on international talks set to be held on January 9 by foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. It is hoped that the meeting, in the Kazakh capital Astana, could make steps towards a peace agreement when the leaders of the same countries meet on January 15.