Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

EU states agree to extend Russia sanctions

  • A branch of Russian lender Sberbank, which is under EU sanctions, in the Czech Republic (Photo: Serge Bystro)

EU countries have agreed to extend the life of Russia and Crimea sanctions, despite Kremlin diplomacy.

They took the decision by consensus at a meeting of ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday (17 June).

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 is to be rubber stamped, with no political debate, by EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

One or other minister could, in theory, call for a discussion and block the move.

Normally, it never happens.

But the abnormal and volatile nature of the Greek bailout negotiations adds an element of uncertainty.

Tsipras

The Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, is to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Friday.

Tsipras has, in the past, criticised the EU sanctions regime, while Russia has said it might dip into its $350 billion reserve fund if Greece asks for help.

The St. Petersburg meeting has given EU and US diplomats sleepless nights on whether Tsipras will sell his EU sanctions veto.

But one EU source said Tsipras gave EU Council president Donald Tusk a face-to-face pledge he won’t.

Another source said Greece, and other sanctions critics, such as the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia, didn’t put up a fight at the ambassadors’ meeting on Wednesday.

A third source said EU states want to get the sanctions out of the way so leaders can devote time to Greece at next week’s summit.

“We don’t want the summit to be dominated by a debate on Russia”, he told EUobserver.

“It’s also a good idea to take the sanctions decision at a low, technical level in order to minimise the political reaction by Russia”.

Extension

The economic sanctions are to be extended from their expiry date, in July, until the end of January.

They were adopted last year after flight MH17 was shot down over the conflict zone and after the regular Russian army entered Ukraine.

They ban Russian banks, arms firms, and energy firms from buying long-term debt on international markets.

They also ban Russian arms and energy firms from buying high-end technology.

The Crimea sanctions, which ban almost all forms of business activity, are to be extended by one year until next June.

The EU ambassadors, on Tuesday, also got a first look at the EU foreign service’s “action plan” on how to counter Russian propaganda.

Putin

For his part, Putin has tried to target potential EU veto-wielders.

He met with Finnish president Sauli Niinisto in Moscow this week and with Italian leader Matteo Renzi in Milan last week.

He also met the Czech and Slovak heads in May and the Cypriot and Hungarian heads in February.

None of them gave a sign they would break EU solidarity on Ukraine, however.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s distribution, last month, of a visa-ban list of 89 EU officials and politicians soured relations.

An EU diplomat told this website the real list is believed to be much longer.

“It could be in the hundreds or even the thousands. But they won’t reveal its full extent because they'd lose the element of surprise, when you land in Moscow and you get turned back”, he said.

Farage and Le Pen unite on Russia report

Britain’s Ukip and France’s National Front have teamed up with other anti-EU parties to vote against a Russia-critical resolution at the EU parliament.

Fifa scandal spotlights Russia

Campaigners for tougher sanctions on Russia are saying it should lose the 2018 football World Cup if US or Swiss sleuths uncover corruption.

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

Latest News

  1. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  2. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  3. EU proposes yearly rule-of-law 'reviews'
  4. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  5. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  6. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  7. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  8. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us