Friday

25th May 2018

EU threatens more Russia sanctions after Mariupol attack

  • Lenin in Mariupol. Markov said EU would 'lift all sanctions … in exchange for not taking Kiev' (Photo: Andreas Kontokanis)

The EU has threatened to impose more sanctions on Russia following its new offensive in south-east Ukraine.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday (24 January) said “further escalation … would inevitably lead to a further grave deterioration of relations”.

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.

Her communique spoke of “offensives by Russia-backed separatists”, adding, “I call therefore openly upon Russia to use its considerable influence over separatist leaders and to stop any form of military, political, or financial support”.

The same day EU Council president Donald Tusk tweeted: “Once again, appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence. Time to step up our policy based on cold facts, not illusions".

Foreign ministers are to discuss the situation at an emergency meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Latvia's Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter at the weekend: “Russia fully responsible to stop them [the attacks], if not, more isolation & sanctions to come”.

His Lithuanian and Swedish counterparts issued similar warnings.

But German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "Efforts for de-escalation need to be continued. I hope that - even after the past three days - not everything is lost".

They spoke after Russia-controlled fighters seized the airport in Donetsk, east Ukraine, last week and, on Saturday, fired rockets into a market in Mariupol, in the south-east of the country, killing dozens of civilians.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said after the Mariupol attack: “Russian troops in eastern Ukraine are supporting these offensive operations with command and control systems, air defence systems with advanced surface-to-air missiles, unmanned aerial systems, advanced multiple rocket launcher systems, and electronic warfare systems”.

For its part, the UK also on Saturday proposed a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for violence to stop.

But Russia, a UNSC veto member, blocked it on grounds it didn't criticise the Ukrainian government.

One EU diplomat based in Kiev told EUobserver the snap FMs meeting is unlikely to agree on sanctions right away.

“The feeling among EU countries’ diplomats here on the ground, even from the more Russia-friendly states, is that there should be some kind of reaction. But the feeling in the capitals is different”, the contact said.

“Foreign ministers could meet but only to issue a strong statement".

The EU last year blacklisted dozens of Russian officials, oligarchs, and MPs. It also imposed sanctions on Russian banks, energy, and arms firms, and a ban on EU investments in Russia-annexed Crimea.

Its option papers say that in the worst case scenario it could stop Russian gas and oil purchases.

Some member states, including the UK, have also suggested excluding Russia from the Belgium-based “Swift” system of international wire transfers.

But for his part, Sergei Markov, the director of the Moscow-based Institute of Political Studies, who describes himself as an advisor to Russian president Vladimir Putin, indicated the Russian elite doesn’t believe the EU threats.

He wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that if the “New Army” takes Mariupol, the EU and US might impose some extra measures.

But he said if it also takes Kharkiv and Odessa, two cities in Ukraine, the EU would launch new talks with Russia and “gradually lift all sanctions … in exchange for not taking Kiev”.

The EU diplomat noted: "This is a message to the EU ... they think we'll do anything to avoid a full-scale war".

One EU, two voices

Meanwhile, the Mogherini and Tusk statements received a mixed reception.

Mogherini's language is tougher than previously on Russia. But Ukrainian activists attacked her on social media for speaking of “Russia-backed separatists” and Russian “influence” in what appears to back Russia's claim that it isn't directly involved in the conflict.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a Polish centre-right MEP, also tweeted: “Russia as aggressor should ‘use its considerable influence’ on itself, not its terrorists, [please] refrain [from] repeating RU [Russian] propaganda”.

The Tusk tweet, which pointed to Russia as “the aggressor”, was welcomed in Ukraine and by Russia hawks in Europe.

“Tusk nails it”, Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said.

This story was updated after Mogherini on Sunday called next week's foreign ministers meeting

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight