UN Secretary General Ban has asked Syrian leader Assad to allow observers into his country to check for the use of chemical weapons. While Russia supports Ban, it has made clear it intends to send modern weapons to Syria.
Russian President Putin said the Syrian military's successes have created conditions for "the start of a political process on a major scale." Syria's Assad said progress would be made in the Astana peace talks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed desire to repair ties with the European Union, insisting he does not want to divide the 28-nation bloc. Putin travels to Austria in a first EU trip since his re-election.
A week after Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit, her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron made his first trip as president to Russia. Macron highlighted plans to work on joint initiatives.
The economic measures prevent EU citizens and companies from investing in Crimea and Sevastopol. Russia's annexation of the peninsula in 2014 prompted the sanctions.
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