Monday

18th Jun 2018

EU and US warn Russia against 'humanitarian' invasion of Ukraine

  • The new Russian threat comes as Ukraine forces prepare to attack the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in east Ukraine (Photo: Jeroen Akkermans RTL)

EU and US leaders have warned Russia that more sanctions will follow if it “invades” Ukraine in the name of “humanitarian” aid.

US president Barack Obama issued the threat on Saturday (9 August) following phone calls with German chancellor Angela Merkel and UK prime minister David Cameron.

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.

... our join as a group

His office said in a statement on the call with Merkel: “The two leaders agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine, even under purported 'humanitarian' auspices, without the formal, express consent and authorisation of the government of Ukraine is unacceptable, violates international law, and will provoke additional consequences”.

Merkel in her own communique noted that any Russian intervention must have Ukraine’s consent.

Cameron’s office added that: “The international community should impose further, tougher sanctions if Russia pursues such action”.

The warnings come after Russia floated a proposal for sending in humanitarian aid convoys earlier last week at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said at the time that if Russian troops openly cross the border it “would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine”.

US vice president Joe Biden, following a call with Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko also at the weekend, added: “If Russia were serious about improving the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, it [should] immediately stop its shelling of Ukrainian troops and release Ukrainian hostages being held inside Russia, as well as cut its provision of weapons to Russian proxies operating in Ukraine”.

The EU in July already imposed economic sanctions on Russia, including a ban on purchasing of long-term debt by its top banks and on EU exports of high-end oil drilling technology.

But leaked EU options papers on further restrictive measures indicate that European states have made preparations to go much further if need be, with “high intensity” proposals including a blanket ban on EU investments in Russia as well as an oil and gas embargo.

Russia last week hit back with a ban on imports of EU food which the European Commission says could cost the bloc up to €12 billion in lost trade.

The office of French president Francois Hollande over the weekend said EU institutions are to make sure the "consequences of the embargo are accurately assessed and measures appropriate to the situation are taken”. It added that “special attention will be paid to producers of fruits and vegetables”.

It also echoed Poland in saying the EU is likely to seek redress against Russia using World Trade Organisation (WTO) mechanisms.

“These massive violations by Russia are sufficiently large to threaten it with expulsion from the WTO”, Polish agriculture minister Marek Sawicki told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Individual EU countries are already counting the cost of the Russian ban, with analysts saying it is likely to see a drop in the price of milk and fisheries products in Europe, as well as a hike in the prices of imported meat as Latin American exporters increase shipments to Russia.

Roberto Moncalvo, the head of Italy’s Coldiretti group, told AFP that Russia has already sent back container loads of Grana Padano parmesan cheese.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council has estimated the Russian ban will cost its members €469 million. Germany has estimated its likely losses at up to €1.6 billion, while Poland has asked the US to open its markets to exports of Polish apples to help compensate.

“There is a greater understanding on account of the fact that the United States has also been hit by Russian sanctions," Poland’s ambasador to the US, Ryszard Schnepf, told Polish press agency Pap.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us