May 26, 2016 / 9:11 AM / a year ago

German Foreign Min Steinmeier says extending Russia sanctions more difficult

VILNIUS, May 26 (Reuters) - An agreement on renewing sanctions against Russia when they run out on July 31 has become more difficult with growing opposition from some EU countries, Germany's foreign minister said on Thursday.

European Union economic sanctions against Russia were introduced for one year in July 2014 in response to its actions in Ukraine and twice extended in 2015.

"We are aware that resistance in the EU to extending the sanctions towards Russia has increased," Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted by Lithuania's BNS news agency saying in an interview.

"It will be more difficult than it was last year to find a common position on this issue."

Germany wants to keep the sanctions until the Minsk peace accords between Russia and Ukraine are implemented, Steinmeier said.

"One thing is for sure. We cannot ignore Russia's annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine," he said. (Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Simon Johnson and Toby Chopra)

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