French President Francois Hollande said on Monday that biting Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted if progress were made in resolving the Ukraine crisis.
"I think the sanctions must stop now. They must be lifted if there is progress. If there is no progress the sanctions will remain," he said during a wide-ranging two-hour interview with France Inter radio station.
He said he was expecting such progress at international talks in Kazakhstan on January 15 in a new push for peace, where Ukraine's Western-backed leader Petro Poroshenko is to meet Russia's Vladimir Putin.
The European Union, United States, and other countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in March and its support for the separatists, whose conflict with government troops has killed more than 4,700 people in eastern Ukraine since April.