"No options, including that of sanctions, can be taken off the table" Merkel said at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin after a meeting of Normandy Four leaders (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia) and trilateral talks (Germany, France and Russia) on the situation in Syria, Censor.NET reports citing Interfax-Ukraine.
The German chancellor said that trilateral talks on Syria were tough. According to her, she believes that it is unlikely that there would be any step forward in the cease-fire issue in Syria in the near term.
Merkel condemned the air raids on Syria's Aleppo as "inhumane and cruel."
She explained that the cease-fire was necessary to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo and promised that the foreign ministers would work on the issue.
According to the German chancellor, Russia must press on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to guarantee safety for civilian population in Aleppo. She noted that Russia was responsible for the start of the political settlement of the situation in Syria.
"Everything that can constitute a threat can be useful," Hollande said at a press conference, commenting on the possibility of discussing sanctions against Russia.
"What is happening in Aleppo is a war crime; one of the first demands is that the bombardments by the regime and its [Russian] backers must end," he said.
He said that the international pressure on the Syrian regime and those who support it would continue.
As previously reported, in 2014, the European Union, the United States and several other countries imposed sanctions against Russia in connection with the occupation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine. These restrictive measures were repeatedly extended and expanded. In particular, the talks on visa waiver and a new basic agreement on cooperation were suspended; several Russia's officials were banned to travel to the EU while their assets were attached. Trade, financial, and military restrictions were introduced.
The sanctions list included a total of 151 individuals and 37 entities. The sectoral sanctions were imposed against 20 Russian financial, oil-producing and defense companies.
The Russian Federation introduced a package of retaliation restrictions against the EU, the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Norway in August 2014. The so-called counter-sanctions prohibited imports of fruit, vegetables, as well as dairy and meat products to Russia from these countries for a one-year period.