"EU sanctions against Russia are to be canceled only after the elimination of the reasons for their introduction," Merkel said.

"The EU is ready for further negotiations with Russia on de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to maintain the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but we will be able to draw conclusions [only] after [we see] his actions.

"We do not rule out an economic cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union in the long term. It is possible in case of steady progress in the implementation of the Minsk Protocol on the resolution of the crisis in the Donbas.

"The EU has nothing against striving for more common economic space together with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan."

Merkel did not directly mention the issue of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, the invasion and annexation of which by Russia in March was the initial reason for the West’s imposition of sanctions against Moscow.