Monday

29th Aug 2016

'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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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

Slovakia's Fico goes to Russia

The Slovak prime minister, whose country currently chairs the EU council, will meet the Russian leader ahead of upcoming EU talks on Russia policy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic CouncilNordic-Baltic co-operation vital in turbulent times
  2. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  3. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  4. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  5. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  6. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  7. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  8. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  9. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  10. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  11. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  12. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!