Tuesday

24th May 2016

EU countries delay Russia sanctions despite ultimatum

  • German leader Angela Merkel last Friday said Russia must act 'in the coming hours' (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

EU countries have opted not to impose extra sanctions on Russia despite the expiry of an ultimatum, citing “positive developments”.

Their ambassadors, meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (1 July), put off the decision until next week.

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.

“We asked for the release of hostages and some hostages were released. There are also new talks between the Ukrainian and Russian leaders, together with France and Germany, so we’d like to see what the next steps are along these lines”, one EU diplomat said, referring to the release of four monitors from the OSCE, a multilateral club.

A second EU diplomat noted: “It’s not clear to us whether the situation is acceptable or unacceptable. It’s too fluid to make a decision at this point”.

A third EU source said: “There is also some positive movement in relation to checkpoints [on the Russia-Ukraine border]. Not everything that’s happening on the ground is in the media”.

EU leaders last Friday said that unless pro-Russia rebels free “all” hostages, hand back three border posts, let in foreign monitors, and start peace talks “by Monday 30 June” they will take “further steps” against Russia.

The rebels still hold over 100 hostages, the checkpoints, and there are no monitors in the conflict zone.

With Ukraine on Monday also ending a ceasefire in which rebels continued to attack its troops, Russia itself said the telephone diplomacy had “failed”.

“We failed – when I say ‘we’, I mean my colleagues in Europe and myself – we failed to convince him [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] that the road to a secure, stable, and inviolable peace cannot lie through war”, he said in a speech in Moscow on Tuesday.

Last week's ultimatum raised public expectation in Ukraine the EU would take swift action.

“I’ve been getting calls all day [from Ukrainian media] asking me: ‘So when are the sanctions coming?’ and I’m not sure what to tell them”, a spokesman for one EU mission in Ukraine said.

The EU’s signature of a free trade accord with Ukraine last Friday has also raised expectation in its foreign ministry.

“From the moment we signed the agreement, the EU took part of the responsibility for what’s going on in Ukraine,” its ambassador to the EU, Kostyantin Yeliseyev, told EUobserver.

"It's the first time the EU issued such clear conditions [on sanctions], so, pacta sunt servanda - if even one of them is not met, there should be results".

With Italy, an opponent of Russia sanctions, taking over the EU rotating presidency on Tuesday, the ambassador added: “The EU must show it does not just formulate conditions, but that it is capable of implementing them as well. We count very much on the Italian presidency to show leadership in this area, regardless of how strong Italy’s business ties with Russia may be”.

EU defends Turkey deal in light of Greek court ruling

The EU Commission on Monday fended off suggestions a decision by a Greek apeals court not to send back a Syrian aslyum seeker to Turkey, because it is not safe, doesn not endanger the EU-Turkey deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  2. Innovators Under 35Meet MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Award Recipients from Belgium on 25 May, 6pm
  3. Open EuropeJoin the Brussels Brexit Debate on Wednesday, 25 May at 5:00 PM
  4. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  5. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  6. CEDEC - Covenant of MayorsWebinar on 25 May - Electric Vehicles Development: The Role of Local Entities
  7. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  10. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan
  11. World VisionCash-based Programming to Address Hunger in South Sudan:
  12. Belgrade Security ForumOpen Call for Applications! Join the Events Team at the 6th Belgrade Security Forum.

Latest News

  1. Terrorists likely stockpiling explosives in EU, says Europol
  2. EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants
  3. Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel
  4. EU and Poland in last minute talks on rule of law
  5. Tough challenges ahead for Austria's president
  6. Search for VW compensation larger in EU than in US
  7. EU 'relief' at far-right defeat in Austria
  8. EU defends Turkey deal in light of Greek court ruling