Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

EU leaders undecided on Russia sanctions

  • Tusk, a former Polish PM, described Russia as an 'enemy' of the EU and US (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders have not yet agreed what to say on Russia sanctions at next week’s summit, despite harsh words on Moscow by EU Council chief Donald Tusk in the US.

The draft summit conclusions, seen by EUobserver, contain a blank on sanctions for now.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

They do say that implementation of the “Minsk” ceasefire agreement is “Russia's responsibility” and that there is “full commitment” for closer EU ties with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

But they also highlight the need to “continue efforts” on EU-Russia-Ukraine talks on gas flows and on the “implementation” of an EU-Ukraine free trade treaty.

With the Ukraine conflict posing concerns over security of Russian gas supply, leaders will recommend steps designed to reduce dependence.

They say member states should focus on “accelerating infrastructure connections” to share gas and electricity if there is a Russian cut-off.

They also call for “ensuring full compliance with EU law and energy security priorities of all agreements with external suppliers that may affect EU energy security”, in a reference to bilateral EU-Russia energy deals which have in the past deepened EU divisions on foreign policy.

No extra sanctions

For his part, EU Council chief Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit on 19 and 20 March, spoke harshly of Russia while visiting the US on Monday (9 March).

“Our enemies who use propaganda against us, commit acts of violence, and violate the sovereignty of our neighbours - they want to weaken the political commitment of the Western world. Today, we can see with full clarity that they are trying to divide us, from inside of Europe, as well as Europe and America”, he told press alongside US president Barack Obama in the White House.

Obama echoed Tusk in saying the West needs to “maintain pressure on Russia” to abide by Minsk.

Tusk, in an interview in The New York Times on Sunday, also noted that Russia has violated the Minsk agreement more than 1,000 times since the deal was reaffirmed last month and that, he believes, “Russia wants to rebuild control over the whole of Ukraine”.

But despite his strong words he said it's “impossible” to reach an EU consensus on extra sanctions.

With Cyprus, Hungary, and Italy in recent weeks courting a rapprochement with Russia, Tusk added: “Some politicians in Europe are ready to believe that there is a chance of good will [from Russian leader Vladimir Putin] … I am more sceptical”.

No arms for Ukraine

The US has during the conflict taken a more hawkish line than the EU 28, including a threat to send weapons to the Ukrainian military.

But for his part, Peter Witting, the German ambassador to the US, said on Monday that Obama in February promised German chancellor Angela Merkel he won’t send arms for now.

“The two leaders exchanged views on that issue and there was unity by them not to impose, or not to go forward with, the delivery of lethal defensive weapons at this time,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

“We have to weigh carefully whether this would inject an additional element that could be a pretext or a trigger for counter-reaction by the Russian leadership”, he said.

Bulgaria tries to warm up Russia ties

Bulgaria is trying to warm up relations with Russia, amid iciness over its support for EU sanctions and its cancellation of major Russian energy projects.

Commission backtracks after Western Sahara 'mistake'

Just hours of publication, the EU Commission removed from the European Parliament's website a response by one of its own commissioners on the Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

Opinion

Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values

As someone who has been personally targeted by Benjamin Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, I still believe that peace is possible. But Donald Trump's 'plan' will be a gift to Netanyahu's campaign.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. Ending shell companies does not threaten privacy
  2. Net payer countries push back on EU budget plans
  3. Is Belgium heading for new elections?
  4. Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK
  5. EU plan on AI: new rules, better taxes
  6. What the EU can do for South Sudan - right now
  7. The last best chance for Donbas and peace in Europe?
  8. EU commissioner lobbied by energy firm he owns shares in

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us