Thursday

19th Apr 2018

EU considers mini-sanctions on Russia

  • Anti-Putin poster in central Kiev (Photo: Marco Fieber)

The EU is considering whether to add some low-level names to the Russia blacklist, as France and Germany lead efforts on Ukraine peace talks.

Member states’ ambassadors in Brussels on Monday (7 July) tasked the EU foreign service with drawing up names of potential individuals.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Diplomatic sources say they will mostly be east Ukrainian separatists and “possibly” a handful of Russian citizens deemed to be supporting them. One contact noted they are likely to be people that even Russia specialists “have never heard of”.

Ambassadors will discuss the list on Wednesday.

EU leaders last month spelled out four conditions for Russia to meet “by 30 June” or face “further steps”.

The conditions, which called for action on the ground, including the rebels' freeing “all” hostages and handing back border checkpoints, have not been met. But there is no guarantee the new sanctions will come.

Recalling Monday’s meeting, one EU diplomat said: “The Brits, the Swedes, the Poles, and the Baltic states wanted a strong approach. But the other member states, led by France and Germany, want to make sure Russia is kept on board in diplomatic efforts”.

A second diplomat said the Franco-German camp “argued that progress on the crisis could be measured not just by actions on the ground, but also in terms of the diplomatic process”.

A third EU diplomat said: “I wouldn’t rule out further sanctions this week, or early next week. But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

The ongoing sanctions debate comes amid two new developments.

Ukrainian forces this week captured the rebel stronghold of Sloviansk, prompting rebels to regroup in Donetsk.

Meanwhile, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, a European multilateral club, revived a “Contact Group” on the conflict.

France and Germany say Ukraine has every right to defend its territory.

But they, and other EU states, are wary that Ukraine might attack Donetsk, a city of 1 million people, causing heavy civilian casualties and inflaming the crisis.

“Despite the change in the situation in eastern Ukraine in favour of the Ukrainian security forces, there will be no purely military solution to the conflict”, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday.

Germany wants the Contact Group to see Ukrainian authorities sit down with local leaders from east Ukraine.

But the problem is who to talk to.

If they meet local leaders who do not represent the pro-Russia rebels, then any deal they make might not lead to peace. But if they meet rebel leaders who do not represent the genuine interests of local people, the talks will be equally void.

“Germany is hoping the OSCE will be able to define some acceptable interlocutors,” one of the EU diplomats told EUobserver.

For his part, Russian leader Vladimir Putin also has plenty at stake.

Putin says he has no control over the mixed bag of mercenaries, Russian nationalist adventurers, and local Ukrainian fighters who form the core of the insuregncy.

The EU says he does. But some EU diplomats believe he is losing control.

“Nationalist extremists in Russia are starting to feel very unhappy that Putin is doing so little to help [the Ukraine rebels]”, a fourth EU diplomat said.

Igor Sutyagin, a Russia specialist at the Rusi think tank in London, told EUobserver that some Russian nationalist extremists in Ukraine and Russia have made threats against Moscow unless it does more.

“They expected more military support and they are not getting it. There is a stratum in Russian society saying Putin is a traitor”, Sutyagin said.

“He [Putin] has opened Pandora’s Box”.

Investigation

Several EU states impose arms ban on Russia

Most of the EU’s top arms exporters have imposed a quiet ban on sales to Russia, but Ukraine’s military embargo could have a bigger impact on the crisis.

EU diplomats unsure of next step on Ukraine

Some EU countries expect a snap foreign ministers' meeting on Wednesday to add names to the Russia blacklist, but others expect no new decision until mid-July despite an ultimatum.

Analysis

Is Germany more hawkish on Russia?

Germany's socialist foreign minister just said the EU should "step up pressure" on Russia. Merkel aired "political" doubts on a Russian pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  2. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  3. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership