Leader of Austria's Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache says he wants to end EU sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.

Heinz-Christian Strache was quoted on Sunday by Austria's Oesterreich newspaper as saying sanctions against Russia should be ended, according to Deutsche Welle.

"It is high time to put an end to these exasperating sanctions and normalize political and economic relations with Russia," he said. The EU sanctions against Russia were imposed in an effort to return Crimea to Ukraine and end an ongoing conflict in the east of Ukraine.

The remarks by Strache, leader of Austria's Freedom Party, come amid a European diplomatic push to resolve the situation in Ukraine. The vice chancellor is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vienna during the week.

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Austria's Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has repeatedly called for EU sanctions against Russia to be lifted. Strache, who is also the leader of the populist Austria's Freedom Party, criticized NATO expansion to the east. "It wasn't Russia who was the aggressor in recent decades, who was trying to spread its zone of military influence towards the border of the European Union," he said in 2015.

Austria's coalition government says it wants to act as a bridge between east and west, while Kurz has stressed its pro-EU stance is secure.

In 2016, top members of Austria's Freedom Party signed a five-year cooperation agreement with Putin's United Russia party.

Austria will take over the EU's rotating presidency for six months in July.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the foreign ministers of the Normandy Four – Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia – will meet in Berlin, Germany, on June 11, 2018, that's according to Germany's top diplomat Heiko Maas.

Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria, Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria Oleksandr Scherba says the Ukrainian Embassy called on local media to raise the issue of Ukrainian film maker Oleh Sentsov, a political prisoner held by Russia.