(QHA) -

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday called on Europe to maintain sanctions pressure on Russia despite a decline in violence in eastern Ukraine.

Merkel, speaking after meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Berlin, said a full cease-fire still hasn’t been reached and that pro-Russian separatists were continuing to prevent international monitors from having complete access in the regions they control.

“The sanctions and the implementation of the Minsk plan must be connected,” Ms. Merkel said.

On Monday, Ms. Merkel said Germany was also prepared to endorse tougher sanctions against Russia if the situation worsens—for example, in the case of a separatist offensive against the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“We are also prepared, if need be, for new sanctions,” Ms. Merkel said. But, she added, “they are not an end in themselves. We do not want them.”

QHA