U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he believes damaging sanctions against Russia could be removed within the next few months, provided Russia cooperates.
The United States and Europe introduced a wide range of damaging sanctions against Russia in early 2014 after the country took a series of military and political moves that severely hurt neighboring Ukraine.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and deadly fighting flared up in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants.
The sanctions were introduced in an effort to pressure Russia to back down from its aggressive moves against Ukraine.
“I believe that with effort and with bona fide, legitimate intent to solve the problem on both sides, it is possible in these next months to … get to a place where sanctions can be appropriately … removed,” said Kerry during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Of course, Kerry said these sanctions can only be removed once both Russia and Ukraine follow through on their commitments to bring peace and stability back to the region. This involves a total ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the region.
Related: Russia in crisis
Kerry’s timeline seems optimistic since world leaders have been pressuring Russia for over a year to abide by the terms of a signed ceasefire agreement.
An original ceasefire was signed in Minsk, Belarus, in September 2014, though it didn’t hold. Another ceasefire was signed in February 2015.
Ukraine’s finance minister, Natalie Jaresko, said the sanctions were designed to ensure that the Minsk agreement was honored, and her country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity restored.
“If the Minsk agreements are fully implemented then the sanctions should be removed but not until then,” she told CNN.
CNNMoney (DAVOS, Switzerland) First published January 22, 2016: 8:38 AM ET