Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to work with the government of Ukraine to fully implement a cease-fire agreement reached earlier in 2015 in Minsk, Belarus.

“I think there was strong agreement among all of the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists, to live up to the Minsk agreement,” said Kerry in a statement at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Antalya, Turkey, May 13.

As part of implementing the Minsk agreement, Kerry called for the Russia-backed separatists to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the coastal town of Shyrokyne, where fighting continues despite the cease-fire. Kerry also said it was critical to allow members of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to enter the areas of conflict.

Kerry also urged both sides of the conflict to work together to determine an election process in areas of eastern Ukraine.  The Minsk agreements stipulate that the elections must be monitored properly and conform to the Ukrainian constitution.

“This is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path of certainty and resolution. And we hope very, very much that President Putin, Russia, the separatists, will come together to work with the government of Ukraine in order to fully implement it and make progress,” Kerry said.

Sanctions against Russia would remain in place as long as Russia continues to violate the cease-fire agreement, he added.

Learn more about the costs of Russia’s actions in Ukraine by following @UnitedforUkr.