EU diplomats back continued Russia sanctions

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.