20th Mar 2018

'Overwhelming majority' of EU countries against Ukraine sanctions

  • European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso (r), met Ukrainian pop star and opposition activist Ruslana in Brussels last Monday (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

An “overwhelming majority” of EU countries believe the time is not right to talk of sanctions on Ukraine.

Lithuania was the only one who said the EU foreign service should draft a list of potential sanctions at a meeting of the bloc’s Political and Security Committee in Brussels on Thursday (23 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The rest followed Germany’s line that EU diplomacy should concentrate on stopping violence instead.

“The overall assessment is that at this stage precedence should be given to diplomatic engagement,” one EU contact noted.

“There was overwhelming support for engagement. The situation is not black and white. It’s very complex and we have to take things forward in a way to end violence, so that no more people are killed,” the EU diplomat added.

The source said that Ukraine is split between western Ukraine, where there is greater support for the opposition, and eastern Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych’s heartland, where he still has support.

“The solution must meet the aspirations of all the people,” the contact noted.

The internal EU debate comes amid renewed threats by Yanukovych’s security chiefs to use force.

"The events of the last days in the Ukrainian capital have shown that our attempts to solve the conflict peacefully, without recourse to a confrontation of force, remain futile," interior ministry Vitaliy Zakharchenko said in a statement on Saturday.

Zakharchenko directly controls Ukraine’s special police units and gendarmes and has the authority to issue them with firearms.

Mark Galeotti, a US expert on security in former Soviet countries, told this website that if he does, the confrontation could easily spiral.

“In the heat of the moment, if an armed policeman is facing molotov cocktails, people equipped with weapons, they might use live ammunition,” he said.

Zakharchenko's statement comes after opposition activists occupied municipal buildings in towns in western Ukraine, highlighting the country's divisions.

It also comes amid EU commissioner Stefan Fuele’s meetings with Yanukovych and with people at the protest camp, or Euromaidan, in central Kiev on Friday and Saturday.

Fuele said in a communique on Saturday: “I have discussed a series of steps to this end, that could lead to confidence building and to a political process aimed at ending this crisis.”

His officials decline to say what the “steps” might be.

But Fuele noted that EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will also visit Kiev next week to show that: ”The EU would remain engaged in this process assisting them in de-escalating the situation.”

In wider diplomacy, top EU officials will discuss the Ukraine crisis at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brussels on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azaraov, a hardline Yanukovych supporter, has tried to defend the regime’s actions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

But, in a sign of international opprobrium following the murders of up to six opposition activists last week, Davos organisers refused to let him enter the congress venue.

He told the FT in an interview at his hotel that outside “provocateurs” carried out the killings.

He also blamed a hardcore of 1,500 or so “ultra-nationalists, xenophobes and anti-Semites” in Kiev for causing last week’s clashes with Zakharchenko's riot police, or Berkut.

Correction: The original story said Poland and Sweden also spoke in support of sanctions at the Political and Security Committee meeting. In fact, Lithuania was the only one. Sincere apologies


An open letter on the future of Ukraine

Intellectuals, artists and former foreign ministers, including Norman Davies, Andrzej Wajda and Bernard Kouchner, have urged European countries to support the Ukrainian opposition.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections