Europe

EU diplomats back continued Russia sanctions

  • European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, center, arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, center, arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, center, speaks with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, left, and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, right, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, center, speaks with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, left, and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, right, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, second left, speaks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, left, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, second left, speaks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, left, during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

European Union diplomats say sanctions against Russia must remain in force until it helps end fighting in eastern Ukraine, despite President Donald Trump's overtures to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday that the EU will never recognize Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, and insisted all sides must respect the Minsk peace agreement.

Arriving to chair a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Mogherini said "I cannot say where the U.S. administration stands on this, but I can say where the Europeans stand on this."

Fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatist rebels has escalated over the past week in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 33 people, including civilians, and wounding dozens. More than 9,800 people have died since the war began in 2014.