Monday

16th Sep 2019

EU leaders to pledge more Ukraine money, threaten Russia sanctions

  • The summit will be chaired by former Polish leader Donald Tusk (l), who took up the post on 1 December (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU is prepared to inject more money into Ukraine and to impose further sanctions on Russia if need be, draft summit conclusions say.

The provisional text - agreed by EU states ambassadors’ on Monday (8 December) and seen by EUobserver - “congratulates Ukraine on its new government and welcomes its determination to carry out political and economic reforms”.

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

It says that following a recent EU aid payment of €500 million “the Union and its member states stand ready to further facilitate and support Ukraine's reform process”.

It notes the “situation in eastern Ukraine remains a strong concern” and urges both sides to implement the 5 September ceasefire accord.

It warns “the European Council is ready to take further steps if necessary” in a reference to Russia sanctions. It also says EU countries plan to impose a ban on investments in Russia-annexed Crimea on 15 December, three days ahead of the EU leaders’ final 2014 meeting in Brussels.

Ukraine installed a new government on 27 November.

In an unusual step designed to assuage popular domestic and foreign fears over deep-rooted corruption in its political elite, it granted citizenship to an American businesswoman, a Georgian official, and a Lithuanian banker and appointed them as its ministers of finance, health, and economy.

It also plans to hire a foreigner to run its new anti-corruption bureau in future.

The draft conclusions’ pledge of further aid come amid reports that its current EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout is not enough to prevent bankruptcy due to the economic contraction caused by the war.

The IMF has so far paid out $8.2 billion of a $17 billion package to cover the period until 2016, while the EU has committed €1.6bn ($2bn).

But EU officials believe it needs another $15 billion to stay in the black - an amount equal to the bloc’s entire budget for the six states in its eastern neighbourhood programme for the next seven years.

They are also unimpressed by the foreign appointments, noting that they lack the power to stand up to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Meanwhile, the talk of increasing EU sanctions comes amid uncertainty over Russia’s next move.

Ukrainian forces on Tuesday observed a “Day of Silence” in the east Ukraine conflict zone amid attempts to revive ceasefire talks with Russia and Russia-controlled rebels in Minsk in the coming days.

But the same day Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that the price of peace will be to grant autonomy to the Russia-occupied “republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk - a red line for Kiev.

“We are convinced that now a systematic problem, namely Kiev’s inability to launch the constitutional process [federalisation], has emerged to prominence”, he told press in Moscow.

He also criticised German chancellor Angela Merkel’s increasingly Russia-critical statements.

"We can't not express our concern over what our German colleagues are doing," Lavrov told a news conference.

“We can't not express our concern over what our German colleagues are doing … Germany has traditionally played a very constructive role regarding EU ties with Russia and the West as a whole with Russia. If Germany would decide to move to issuing orders, then Europe wouldn't win from that and neither would Germany”, he said.

The same day Russia also announced that it would send another unauthorised convoy of “aid” truck to the rebel zones - the ninth one since its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Despite the harsh words, Germany and the EU foreign service are said to be putting together a new offer to Russia to encourage it to back down.

A Lithuanian contact told EUobserver the centrepiece of the “package” will be new trade talks between the EU and the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union.

Few in Brussels believe Russia’s war on Ukraine has anything to do with commercial concerns linked to the EU-Ukraine free trade pact.

But the initiative amounts to recognition the EU is locked in an assymetrical confrontation with Russia: it is unwilling to use military force; it has no agreement to offer Ukraine an EU membership perspective; no way to stop Russian gas purchases without provoking a new economic crisis in Europe; and no Russia-type propaganda machine.

“When Germany talks tough, it usually means it is preparing to act soft”, the Lithuanian contact said.

“What kind of message will it send to people in Ukraine, or in Georgia and Moldova? That we are preparing to make concessions to Russia over their heads despite its behaviour?”, the source added.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should the West help the Russian opposition to try topple the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession

Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have demanded to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania this year, as Hungary's man prepares to take over the enlargement portfolio.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us