Merkel underlines displeasure over Russia's Ukraine role, says no reason to lift sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is underlining her displeasure over Russia's role in eastern Ukraine and saying there's no reason yet to lift European Union sanctions.

Russia supported rebel-organized elections in eastern Ukraine that the West says undermine a much-violated cease-fire deal.

Merkel said Tuesday her aim remains a diplomatic solution but the weekend's events show "how difficult it is even to maintain agreements that have been made, if we look at the illegal elections."

She said "Russia isn't yet contributing in the way we would like," sanctions were inevitable and "there is no reason at the moment to lift them."

New EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was quoted in several European newspapers as supporting sanctions but saying there's "an open question mark" over whether they will change Russia's attitude.