Monday

29th May 2017

EU diplomats unsure of next step on Ukraine

  • Diplomats unsure what 'by 30 June' means and what is the next step (Photo: Marco Fieber)

EU leaders last Friday (27 June) gave Russia a new ultimatum on sanctions, but opinion differs on when the ultimatum is due and what the reaction will be.

The leaders said they will take "further steps" unless Russia meets four conditions “by Monday 30 June”. The list includes the freeing of “all” hostages by pro-Russia rebels and the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian forces.

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 rebels over the weekend freed four monitors from the OSCE, a multilateral body, in a move welcomed by the EU foreign service.

But according to the US ambassador to the OSCE, Daniel Baer, they still hold “more than 100 other hostages”.

The three other conditions were not met either, as fighting continued over the weekend, causing the death of five Ukrainian soldiers and a Russian journalist.

An EU foreign service spokeswoman told EUobserver on Sunday that member states’ ambassadors will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss the way forward and that “further steps depend on developments”.

But there is confusion over what happens next despite the detailed nature of last Friday's EU demands.

One EU diplomat said the ultimatum expired on Sunday night and that she expects an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers on Wednesday to add more names to the EU's Russia blacklist.

A second EU diplomat said: “I think the ultimatum expires at the end of the day today, at least that’s my reading”.

He added that any new sanctions are more likely to be implemented by the extraordinary EU summit due on 16 July to discuss EU top jobs.

A third diplomatic source said he has “no idea” what the phrase “by Monday 30 June” means in practice.

He added there could be an extraordinary EU ministerial “at any time”. But he noted that if EU countries opt to change the legal basis of the blacklist - to add names of people responsible for financing pro-Russia rebels or to add more Russian companies instead of just individuals - the decision will be left to the summit.

Meanwhile, the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia held a four-way phone call which lasted more than two hours on Sunday.

According to official statements, Russian leader Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko to extend his unilateral ceasefire beyond Monday, while EU leaders repeated their four conditions.

They also agreed to hold more talks in the same format later today (30 June).

For their part, several hundred protesters in Kiev city centre on Sunday called on Poroshenko to scrap the truce and to renew a full-scale military offensive against the rebels.

Ukrainian NGOs have also voiced concern on whether EU-Russia-Ukraine talks on the implementation of the EU free trade pact, signed at Friday’s EU summit, will delay the process.

The trade pact has “provisionally” entered into force in the 28 EU countries without the need for ratification by each capital. But the Ukrainian parliament must ratify it before it becomes valid.

Poroshenko on Friday promised to do it before parliament breaks for the summer.

The EU-Russia-Ukraine talks on the treaty are to see a first meeting at expert level on 3 July followed by a trade minister-level meeting on 11 July.

“It’s important that these processes [implementation of the treaty and the trilateral talks] are treated as separate, parallel processes, to avoid giving Russia some sort of say in our co-operation with Ukraine”, one of the EU diplomats said.

Another of the EU diplomats added: “Russia must not be given a say on the date for starting implementation because if it is, the date might never come”.

“It’s important to find a modus vivendi with Russia after the signature of the trade treaty, but not to give it a veto right … signature without implementation would be meaningless”.

Soros to EU: Help 'new Ukraine' against 'new Russia'

US philanthropist George Soros has said the EU needs to support "new Ukraine" in its struggle against Putin's "new Russia". His words came as Ukraine's President ended a unilateral ceasefire with separatists in the east of the country.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  3. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  6. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  7. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  8. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  10. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  11. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  12. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition