Merkel visits Ukraine, says anti-Russian sanctions will stay

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited Ukraine, pledging to uphold anti-Russian sanctions for Russian actions in Ukraine.

Speaking after Thursday’s talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Merkel said Germany would support extending the European Union’ s restrictions against Russia over its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. Merkel cited the lack of progress in fulfilling a 2015 peace deal.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine that erupted in 2014 weeks after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The peace agreement signed in Minsk in 2015 helped reduce the scope of fighting, but clashes have continued and a political settlement has stalled.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the stalemate.

Poroshenko urged Russia to withdraw its forces and weapons from eastern Ukraine. Russia has denied having forces there.

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