Wednesday

19th Dec 2018

EU extends sanctions on Russia

  • German chancellor Angela Merkel during a recent meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Photo: kremlin.ru)

EU leaders on Thursday (22 June) extended sanctions against Russia for another six months, amid concerns that the so-called Minsk peace process between Moscow and Kiev, which France and Germany helped to broker, is currently dead-locked.

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel briefed their colleagues during Thursday’s summit in Brussels.

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

"Regretfully, we have seen that there is little progress to be seen" and "constant violations of the ceasefire," Merkel told reporters afterwards.

"Under such circumstances, everybody spoke of the need to extend the sanctions," the chancellor went on, adding that "Germany and France received support regarding the continuation of the Minsk process”.

The EU first imposed sanctions against Russian banks, oil and defence companies, as well as certain officials, in the summer of 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Sanctions were extended until January 2018.

The EU has made their lifting conditional on Russia’s implementation of the Minsk agreement, which requires that Moscow pressures the separatists into a ceasefire.

Russia, however, denies being involved in the conflict. It also refuses to discuss with international partners its annexation of Crimea, saying the half-island's "reunification" with Russia is a closed case.

According to sources, Merkel said the dialogue with Russia was currently dead-locked.

The EU high representative of foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, said the Minsk talks must continue, but that the EU could do more. The high representative recently visited Moscow, in a bid to offer more channels for dialogue.

While no EU leader opposed extending the sanctions, and many expressed their support for further Franco-German talks with Russia and Ukraine, some said it was important to also cooperate with Russia, for instance on ways to solve the war in Syria.

Swedish prime minister Stefan Loefven, furthermore, called for an updated picture of the efficacy of the sanctions.

A recent study by the US state department said that EU sanctions have reduced Russian GDP by 1 to 1.5 percent, and the EU’s own GDP by 0.1 percent.

In addition, the EU has lost 0.3 percent of its GDP as a consequence of a Russian counter-embargo on EU food products, which was also introduced in 2014.

The US study said that the countries that are the strongest backers of the sanctions on Russia - the Baltic states, Finland and Poland - paradoxically also are the ones to suffer most from them, while the impact on sanction-critics such as Italy has been limited.

The US has lost a mere 0.005 percent of its GDP because of its own sanctions on Russia and the counter-sanctions. The US senate recently passed a bill that would sharpen US sanctions on Russia, but the proposal has stalled in the US house of representatives.

Feature

Crimeans seek stable life under Russian control

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, there has been a somewhat mixed reaction to the increased Russian presence on the peninsula. Some welcome it, others reject it in hushed voices.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Financial Times picks Soros as 'Person of the Year'
  2. Italy strikes last-minute deal with EU over budget
  3. UK to unveil new immigration rules ending free movement
  4. Belgian PM resigns five months before elections
  5. EU agree to ban throwaway plastics to reduce marine litter
  6. EU agrees 2019 fishing quotas for Atlantic and North Sea
  7. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  8. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Hackers stole thousands of internal EU files
  2. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  3. Orban protests target state media in new front
  4. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  5. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  6. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  7. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  8. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us