Thursday

21st Mar 2019

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.

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 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.

News in Brief

  1. EPP proposes suspension for Orban's Fidesz
  2. May asks for Brexit extension until 30 June
  3. Juncker: Brexit decision unlikely this week
  4. North Macedonia EU-membership talks set for June
  5. EU ups benefits rights for mobile workers
  6. Chinese leader visits Italy, France as Rome joins 'Silk Road'
  7. EU agrees to sanction political parties breaching data rules
  8. EPP votes Wednesday on future of Orban's party

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  2. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  3. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  4. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  5. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  6. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  7. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  8. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  3. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  5. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  6. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us