Western leaders agreed at G-20 meet to extend sanctions on Russia by 6 months: Diplomat

US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference following the G20 summit in Antalya on Nov 16, 2015.
US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference following the G20 summit in Antalya on Nov 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

ANTALYA (Reuters) - Western leaders who met on the margins of last week's Group of 20 summit in Turkey agreed to extend sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine by six months until July of next year, a senior European diplomat told Reuters.

The decision was taken despite mounting calls to cooperate more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants following the Nov 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.

United States President Barack Obama, Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's David Cameron, Italy's Matteo Renzi and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who represented French President Francois Hollande at the summit, attended the brief meeting near the conclusion of the G-20 meeting in Antalya.

The diplomat said that leaders had concluded that it was important to maintain pressure on Russia ahead of planned elections in eastern Ukraine.

"The elections in Ukraine are heavy lifting. We only have a chance to get what we want if we play the sanctions card. Financial sanctions need to stay in place until the bitter end," the diplomat said, requesting anonymity because the agreement was confidential.