Hong Lei
China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei condemned the West's sanctions against Russia at a press conference Monday. Reuters

China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the West’s sanctions against Russia in response to the eastern Ukraine crisis and called for renewed “dialogue” on the subject Monday. The economic sanctions against Russia were expected to be a major issue at the G-7 summit in Germany, after U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed support for their extension.

“As for Ukraine, we have repeatedly voiced our stance on sanctions and the threats of their use,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a press conference, according to Russian news outlet TASS. “We are sure that the crisis in Ukraine can be resolved only through a dialogue and consultations.”

“We hope that all the respective parties will take the necessary steps and effective measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and manage to advance in the process of the political settlement that will allow settling the crisis in Ukraine in a comprehensive way,” the spokesman added.

The U.S. and EU implemented sweeping economic sanctions against Russia last September as a response to the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and purported participation in the Ukraine conflict, which has killed more than 6,400 since early last year. Russia has denied involvement. The EU’s initial sanctions targeted Russia’s financial, energy and arms industries and caused significant damage to Russia’s economy.

Obama, Hollande and Merkel were expected to push for sanctions to continue indefinitely to force Russia’s cooperation with a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatist rebels active in eastern Ukraine. The peace deal was signed last February and resulted in limited fighting between the rebels and Ukrainian government forces for months, although there has been an uptick of violence since June began.

“The duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s full implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the White House said in a statement, according to the BBC.

The U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and representatives of the EU will meet through Monday at the Schloss Elmau hotel in Germany for the G-7 summit. Russia typically participates in the meeting but was banned this year because of its annexation of Crimea.