Hit Russia with more sanctions if Minsk deal broken, Poroshenko tells EU

Donald Tusk and Petro Poroshenko at the summit. [ European Council]

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Thursday (12 February) told EU leaders not to hesitate to impose further sanctions on Russia, if the terms of the Minsk ceasefire are broken.

Poroshenko attended the first part of the summit at the invitation of Council President Donald Tusk. He briefed leaders on the Minsk talks held the previous night, urging them to closely monitor implementation of the agreement. 

Both leaders briefly met the press at 6 PM, before Tusk returned to the summit which he is chairing. Tusk said he had invited Poroshenko as an expression of the EU’s solidarity with the victims of what he termed “aggression against Ukraine”. Poroshenko’s presence also demonstrated that the Union was united in its support of his efforts to restore peace, and maintain independence and territorial integrity, Tusk added.

Show of unity

We still hope for a peaceful solution, but the real test lies in respecting the ceasefire, Tusk said. He added that the EU will remain united “both when there is a need for a strong reaction” and in the event that “massive assistance” is needed to help rebuild Ukraine.

Poroshenko said it was very important for him to be in Brussels immediately after the Minsk summit, which ended this morning with a plan for a ceasefire. The plan was backed by a declaration signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

>> Read: Minsk marathon talks end up with ceasefire agreement

The Ukrainian president repeated Tusk’s words of unity and solidarity. At the summit, he said he saw a unified EU defending European values in solidarity with Ukraine.

He said that over the last 72 hours he had only slept five hours, traveling from Kramatorsk to Minsk and then to Brussels. In Kramatorsk, he said, Russian-backed terrorists opened fire with the Russian multirocket system Smerch, killing 17 people and wounding 64, most of them civilian, including five children. 

>> Read: Renewed Ukraine fighting undermines Minsk talks

The key element of the Minsk agreement was the ceasefire, Poroshenko said. He explained that the Ukrainians had asked for an immediate stop to hostilities, whilst pro-Russian separatists demanded 70 hours before the ceasefire.

Immediately after the deal was signed, Russian-backed rebels launched an offensive in the area of Debaltsevo, according to Poroshenko.

That is why it was of vital importance for Ukraine that the West maintained pressure on Russia, he said. The pressure was needed to make sure that promises to withdraw troops, release hostages, and close borders were kept.

“If the Minsk agreement is violated, this is exactly the reason for further restrictive measures by the EU and the USA,” Poroshenko said.

Further Reading

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