Friday

19th Jul 2019

EU ministers give tacit accord to Russia sanctions

  • Steinmeier told some fellow EU ministers he had been "misinterpreted" on Nato (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

EU ambassadors are still planning to roll over Russia sanctions at a meeting on Tuesday (21 June) morning, but France wants a broader Russia debate at the EU summit.

An EU source told EUobserver the ambassadors planned to adopt the decision without any discussion at their meeting, which was due to start at 10AM local time.

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

  • Ayrault called for a Russia policy debate at the EU summit (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

“We’ll see what happens in the meeting, but the expectation is that any change of strategy [on sanctions] would wait for the the next time around,” the source said, referring to the next six-month renewal that will fall due in winter.

“There’s still a consensus [for the current roll-over] … we don’t expect any hiccups”, the source said.

The ambassadors’ meeting comes after Austrian and German foreign ministers, over the weekend, said EU policy should be modified so that, in future, if Russia complies with part of the Minsk ceasefire accord on Ukraine then the EU would respond by lifting part of its economic measures.

The current model is to lift sanctions after full compliance.

German minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also caused controversy by saying that recent Nato drills in Poland had amounted to “warmongering” against Russia.

Neither of them defended their position at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, however.

Ministers briefly discussed Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic in the context of the EU’s new policy for the high north.

Steinmeier did ask for Russia to be added to the ministers’ agenda, but he used the point to mention Germany’s priorities on Ukraine in the context of its chairmanship of the OSCE, the international body monitoring the conflict, rather than to call for a new Russia policy.

He also told some fellow EU ministers in the margins of the event that he had been “misinterpreted” on Nato and that Germany’s commitment to the alliance remained firm.

He told press that it was “possible” the sanctions would be renewed on Tuesday.

The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said sanctions would be “automatically” rolled over before the EU summit, due next week. But he said EU leaders should hear from France and Germany, which are negotiating with Russia and Ukraine on behalf of the EU, about the state of play in the conflict.

He said there should be “a debate on substance, on content” and that Ukraine must also “do their part of the work” on Minsk compliance.

Echoing Austria and Germany on future partial lifting of the measures, he added: “If we can send a fews signs of encouragement to the ones and the others, it can be useful”.

British foreign secretary Philip Hammond was more hawkish.

“The message to Russia has to be if you want the sanctions relaxed, deliver your commitment at Minsk. Not some of them or moving towards or talking about [it], but delivery,” he told press in Luxembourg.

“The Russians are playing a game. Frankly, a game of divide and rule. Targeting those who are temperamentally inclined to talk about sanctions relaxation: pressuring them, cajoling them … Any sign of reviewing will be seen as a sign of weakness”, he said.

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. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  2. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  3. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  4. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  5. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  6. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  7. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  8. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us