NEWPORT, United Kingdom: New sanctions against Russia expected to be announced on Friday in response to the Ukraine crisis could be lifted if a ceasefire is implemented, Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
"What would be sensible is to go ahead with our plan for increased sanctions," he told the BBC at a NATO summit in south Wales.
"If there is a ceasefire, if it is signed and if it is then implemented, we can then look at lifting sanctions off."
EU and US officials have said sanctions against Russia will be announced on Friday in response to a major escalation of Russian military support to the rebels in eastern Ukraine in recent days.
But there are still hopes that a ceasefire could be forged at peace talks in Minsk, also on Friday.
Hammond, though, noted that there was "a great deal of scepticism" about whether the prospect of a lasting ceasefire was real.
"I don't think we want to be distracted from our determination to impose further sanctions in response to Russia's major military adventure into Ukraine," he added. (AFP)