Monday

17th Jun 2019

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”.

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

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

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

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 MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  2. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  3. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  4. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  5. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  6. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  7. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  8. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us