Friday

18th Jan 2019

EU targets more Russian names, firms ahead of 'long' weekend

  • The 9 May military parades and the 11 May referendum in Donetsk could trigger fres EU measures (Photo: Peer.Gynt)

EU countries are preparing to blacklist more Russian officials and two firms depending on what happens in Crimea and Donetsk over the weekend.

The names were discussed by member states ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday (8 May), but the final decision will be made by EU foreign ministers on Monday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The ambassadors also reached a preliminary agreement on broadening the legal basis of the Russia sanctions.

One EU diplomat told EUobserver that both the status and the number of the new Russian names mooted in the ambassadors’ meeting were “small and disappointing”.

The contact added the two firms are Crimean energy companies confiscated from Ukraine after Russia annexed the territory in March, but they are so minor that “very few people, even among the experts, had heard of them”.

The previous legal basis of the sanctions says the EU can target people who are “responsible” for events in Ukraine and “entities … associated with" the individuals.

The new legal basis is said to broaden the terms to include people and firms who also “benefitted” from the transfer of Crimean assets.

“It’s a bit better. But it still doesn’t let the EU go after the really important persons in Moscow,” the EU diplomat noted.

A second EU source said: “We are still at the level of what we call ‘stage two’ sanctions, designations of individuals, not ‘stage three’, designations of whole sectors of the Russian economy.”

The sanctions debate comes despite the fact Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he has withdrawn troops from the Ukrainian border and called on separatists in Donetsk to put off a referendum on independence.

But the rebels rejected Putin’s appeal and aim to hold the vote on Sunday as planned.

When asked by press in Washington on Thursday if the US has evidence the Russian troops have moved, state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “We have not … No.”

She added: “It’s more than just comments we need. We need actions. We still continue to believe the Russian government has an ability to influence what the separatists are doing on the ground, so we’ll look to see if that happens over the coming days.”

A third EU source noted the new sanctions are not tied to the referendum only.

“We also have the 9 May military parades in Moscow and in Crimea [which Putin plans to attend], so we’ll be looking at the messages coming out of this. Events are evolving and we have to see what happens on the ground … It’s going to be a long weekend."

The diplomat’s comments highlighted the difference between EU hawks and doves on Russia.

Former Iron Curtain states, Nordic countries and the UK are keen to target senior Russian interests on the US model. But Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain are more wary.

Asked by this website if the new names and entities are “disappointing”, the third EU diplomat said: “We’ve already listed 48 people and some of them are very high-ranking. We need to implement sanctions gradually and progressively because they are not designed to punish people, they are designed to bring the other side onto the de-escalation path.”

The latest plan to calm the crisis is a “Road Map” put forward by Switzerland in its role as the chair-in-office of the OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral body.

It includes holding an OSCE-moderated “round table” between Kiev authorities and rebels and has already won favour in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the US and France on Thursday indicated that relations with the Kremlin have not broken down despite the rhetoric on both sides.

The White House said Putin should come to France on 6 June to celebrate the anniversary of D-Day with President Barack Obama and European leaders. “We would not expect France to dis-invite Russia from this historic event commemorating World War II because of what's taking place in Ukraine … Millions of Russian lives were lost in the war against Nazi Germany,” a US spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, said.

A French government source told Reuters that France is still planning to deliver the first of two advanced “Mistral” naval vessels to Russia in the fourth quarter of this year as part of a €1.2 billion deal dating before the crisis.

The second ship, named the Sevastopol after the Crimean port which hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, is to be delivered in 2016.

“Our position remains the same. No decision [on blocking the delivery] before October,” the French source said.

Russia driving up euro, says Draghi

The Russian-Ukrainian crisis is contributing to a strong euro, along with low inflation and weak demand, said European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

Agenda

Eastern neighbourhood in the forefront this WEEK

The EU this week will see a flurry of visits to and from the eastern neighbours - Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia - as Russia continues to stir trouble in the region.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us