EU warns Russia over Ukraine peace deal

The European Union has warned Russia it was ready to take further measures in addition to the sanctions it has already imposed if the new Ukraine peace deal hammered out in the Belarussian capital of Minsk was not respected.

The leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed to the deal to help end 10-months of bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, but the United States and NATO said further intense fighting on Thursday ran counter to the spirit of the accord.

The agreement, announced after more than 16 hours of discussions in Minsk, was followed swiftly by allegations from Kiev of a new influx of Russian military equipment into territory held by separatists.

European Council chief Donald Tusk said an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday focused on how to support the implementation of the agreement.

“If [the agreement] does not happen we will not hesitate to take the necessary steps," Tusk told a press conference after the high-level summit.

The peace pact calls for a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists starting Sunday, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, and constitutional reform to give eastern Ukraine more autonomy.

Tusk said the EU would go ahead anyway with new sanctions against 19 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and nine entities next week, despite having agreed on Monday to suspend implementation for a week to boost the chances of success of the Minsk talks.

"Our trust in the goodwill of President Putin is limited, this is why we have to maintain our decision on sanctions," he said.

Brussels first imposed targeted sanctions on individuals after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 but adopted tougher economic measures after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.

Tusk said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had given EU leaders a "sobering assessment" of the deal and the "terrible situation in his country as a result of Russian aggression."

Poroshenko earlier warned that it would be hard to make a success of the deal between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.

"It was very difficult negotiation and we expect not easy implementation process," Poroshenko said in Brussels.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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