BRUSSELS -- Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko expressed guarded optimism Thursday that a U.S. administration under President-elect Donald Trump will continue to back sanctions against Russia.
Poroshenko, attending a summit with top European Union officials in Brussels, said Trump had raised the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the east of Ukraine in a phone conversation with him.
"I had an opportunity to give him very detailed information about the latest situation in the east of my country and Crimea," Poroshenko told reporters.
He said Ukraine has strong bipartisan support in the United States and "we don't expect any changes."
European Council President Donald Tusk said the future U.S. leader also made "very generalized" comments about Ukraine in their separate telephone chat. Tusk said the conversation was short on details "but at least promising compared to some announcements during the campaign."
EU member countries were rattled by Trump's generally benevolent view of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the election campaign.
The EU imposed a series of rolling economic sanctions against Russia in July 2014. They include diplomatic measures including canceling top-level meetings, and travel bans and asset freezes on people linked to the annexation of Crimea or believed to be interfering with Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Some of those measures are due to be renewed in January, but EU officials have been waiting to get a clearer picture of whether Trump plans to reboot relations with Russia. With the EU already divided over how to handle Moscow, any sign that U.S.-Russia relations might improve could undermine the sanctions regime.
Poroshenko's trip to Brussels was in part to lobby the EU to continue the restrictive measures and urge Washington to do the same.
Tusk underlined that the Russia "sanctions remain clearly linked to the complete implementation" of the Minsk peace agreement that was meant to have ended the conflict. For the moment at least, they still do not believe that Putin is doing enough.
A Section on 11/25/2016