11:08 Sep. 15, 2016
British Foreign Secretary says his country supports keeping sanctions on Russia
Britain continues to support keeping sanctions on Russia, country's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to Ukraine on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
On his first visit to Kyiv since taking office, Johnson said it was primarily up to the Kremlin to make progress towards peace in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatists has killed more than 9,500 people.
He said he supported the efforts of the foreign ministers of Germany and France, who were also separately in Kyiv for talks, to achieve a lasting ceasefire and a roadmap for peace under the so-called Minsk agreement.
There were fears in Kyiv a Brexit vote would weaken the EU's support for Ukraine and undermine its resolve to stand up to Russia.
In the run-up to the vote, Johnson, who championed leaving the EU, also publicly linked the Ukraine crisis to what he called the "EU's pretensions to running a defence policy".
"Whatever you want to say about the EU's handling of the issues, the crucial thing now is that we maintain sanctions," Johnson said on Wednesday, while fielding a question that referred to his earlier remarks.
Johnson said that the Minsk process was progressing at a "snail's pace" but remained the only way of resolving the conflict in the Donbas region, which erupted after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
"Clearly it's up to the Russians primarily to make progress on the security side," he said, speaking to reporters alongside his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin.
"But it's up to all sides I think in this conversation to make progress together."
Moscow denies accusations by Ukraine and NATO that it helps the separatists with troops and arms.