: Reuters: Italy, Hungary say no automatic renewal of Russia sanctions

12:55 Mar. 15, 2016

Reuters: Italy, Hungary say no automatic renewal of Russia sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a state awards ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo)

New imposition of sanctions against Russia is under a question

Italy and Hungary, two of the Kremlin's closest allies in Europe, said on Monday there could be no automatic extension of the European Union's sanctions against Russia, the most public sign yet of fraying unity on how to deal with Moscow.

Two years after the West imposed economic sanctions over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the EU's resolve is at risk of ebbing because of the stalled Minsk peace process, diplomats say.

Read also E.U. extends sanctions against 146 Russian individuals and 37 companies

Some EU member states, such as Britain, the Baltic republics and Poland, argue that sanctions remain a necessary response to what they see as an expansionist Russia. Hungary, Italy and Greece stress its importance as a trade partner, a supplier of energy and a major player in attempts to end war in Syria.

Read also EU unity set to be tested over sanctions on Russia

However, the United States says lifting Western sanctions are conditional on Russia complying with the terms of the Minsk peace process. Moscow denies any military involvement.

"Today Russia faces a choice between the continuation of economically damaging sanctions and fully meeting its obligations under Minsk," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday in Paris.

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