The European Union says there can be no return to business as usual in EU-Russia relations as long as the Ukraine crisis remains unsettled.
"We have been clear that there can be no return to business as usual in EU-Russia relations until a sustainable solution has been found to this [Ukraine] crisis," Deputy Secretary General for the European External Action Service Helga Schmid said at the official closing of the Ukraine week conference in the European Parliament on Wednesday, March 2.
"And if you see our restrictive measures on Russia and our continuing support for Ukraine and other neighbors have been clear demonstrations of our resolve in this contest," she said.
She emphasizes that the Minsk agreements on restoring peace in Donbas in Ukraine's east need to be implemented in full. "I'd also like to underline that all sides need to engage in complete implementation. We keep calling on Ukraine to do as much as possible on its part. No one should be able to say that Ukraine has not done everything to make a peaceful solution work," she said.
"But even with the Minsk agreements fully implemented, we will be left with the issue of Crimea and Sevastopol," she added.
"There is no need for me to reiterate that the EU does not recognize the illegal annexation [of Crimea by Russia] and will continue implementing its non-recognition policy," she said.
She also pointed out the deterioration of the situation of human rights in Crimea. "The deteriorating human rights situation on the peninsula is a cause for particular concern for us," she added.