Sunday

4th Dec 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”.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security