Sanctions on Russia to be the biggest unity test at this European Council

Poroshenko Juncker

Meeting between Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, last February (EC Audiovisual Services, 12/02/2015)

The relations between the European Union and Russia, as well as the entire, delicate situation in Ukraine, will be discussed at the European Council commencing this Thursday, although no big news are likely to come. EU leaders have not yet agreed on how to proceed on Russian sanctions, but they are unlikely to reach agreement at tomorrow’s table to prolong existing economic sanctions that will expire in July.

Give ceasefire a chance

Last week Reuters reported a senior EU Official saying that new sanctions on Russia will be off the table for now because EU governments want to give a chance to the “fragile ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine. “I don’t think there is unanimity at all for the rollover of sanctions, the sanctions that are due in July,” the official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, stated.

Uncertainty might be even deeper though. Germany’s position last week, as well as some others of the 28 member states’ one, was to promote and to draft a statement saying that EU sanctions on Russia will not be eased unless Moscow complies with a cease-fire deal in Ukraine.

Germany’s call to keep the pressure high

This week things went further though. German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday called on Europe to maintain sanctions on Russia despite a mild decrease in violence in eastern Ukraine. After meeting in Berlin with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday, Ms. Merkel emphasized that too often international monitors are impeded from having access to the areas under the control of the separatists, and that Russia has not a collaborative approach. She then urged European Union heads of state and government to keep pressure high on Moscow.

Existing sanctions extended

A few days before Ms. Merkel’s breakthrough the EU Council had officially extended sanctions imposed against 150 Russian and Ukrainian nationals and 37 entities over their alleged actions in Ukraine until September 15, according to the Official Journal of the European Union. As the official EU statement says, “The Council has prolonged the application of EU restrictive measures targeting action against Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”. Indeed the decision was a formality after EU foreign ministers agreed in January to extend the sanctions.

Positive signs

Some EU governments have only reluctantly backed EU sanctions so far and most want to leave them as they are for now. Be this strategy too “static” or not, some mildly positive signals are visible. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reported last Friday a “gradual de-escalation” in the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern part. As reported by AFP, speaking on Ukraine’s private 1+1 television network, Mr. Poroshenko said: “The fact that we have not had military losses for several days … this is a clear indication of a gradual de-escalation”. The remarks came a day after the monitors of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that the February 12 ceasefire was “broadly” holding up, despite sporadic clashes in some areas.

Would that be enough?

Mr. Poroshenko formally expressed optimism regarding the February 12 truce, where the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s frontlines, despite sporadic clashes in some strategic points. Positive signs could not be enough though. The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has openly spoken about much more direct messages to send to Russia. While interviewed by German newspaper a few days ago, Mr. Juncker said he believes that the EU needs its own army to face Moscow and other threats as well as restore the bloc’s foreign policy standing around the world. “With its own army, Europe could react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighbouring state”, he stressed.

Time for a common EU army…

Mr. Juncker stressed that a common EU army could serve as a deterrent and would have been useful during the Ukraine crisis. Although Mr. Juncker said that a European army would not be created for immediate use, he then pointed directly towards Moscow, pointing that a common army among the Europeans would “convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union”. Despite the European Commission President’s determined view, it is still uncertain how many EU member states would concretely back a common EU army institution. For instance Britain, along with France, has been reluctant to give a sharp military role to the EU, fearing this would undermine good old NATO.

…and time for reflections

What remains sure is that the complex Russia-Ukraine situation is once again a strong cause for reflection for the EU to understand what role it should play during international crises. Too often it seemed impossible for the bloc to find a common strategy and to speak with one voice. The uncertainty behind the decision on whether to prolong or not the sanctions, or the fragmented and embarrassed reactions around the common EU army are a sign that cannot be ignored.

Peacekeeping

In the meantime, last Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebiynis said Kiev has placed a formal request to the United Nations for a peacekeeping mission to be stationed in its eastern regions. Mr. Perebiynis announced that a preliminary request for the mission had been delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and another would follow after Ukrainian parliament’s ratification.

The hope now is that the next European Council will help EU regain some unity, and that the bloc could be UN’s best interlocutor on the way to the resolution of the crisis.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Under fire, UN refugee agency evacuates 135 detained in Libya to Niger

EP Group leaders on Brexit: “the agreement is not open to renegotiation”

Chart of the day: This is what violence does to a nation’s GDP

“Beating pollution for our planet”, a Sting Exclusive by Mr Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Changing world of work needs new jobs strategy

The challenges of the universalization of the health system in Brazil. What can we change?

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

Outgoing UN official praises Iraq’s ‘exemplary peaceful transfer of power’ at the top

OECD welcomes French plans to increase and better target foreign aid

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

Scientists have created a new kind of plastic that could be infinitely recyclable

I have a rare disease. This is my hope for the future of medicine

Greece: The new government of Alexis Tsipras shows its colors

They won this year’s Nobel for economics. Here’s why their work matters

We need to deep clean the oceans. Here’s how to pay for it

Multiculturalism, social diversity and tolerance

Youth not prioritised in new Commission

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Europe – 14 June 2016

Technology is delivering better access to financial services. Here’s how

European Parliament the most trusted EU institution

Lack of investment and ambition means Youth Guarantee not reaching potential

World Health Organisation and young doctors: is there any place for improvement?

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Deepening Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union: Commission takes stock of progress

Future of Insurance Claims in Focus at Fourth Annual Connected Claims Europe Summit

WhatsApp to face scrutiny from EU regulators task force over data sharing with Facebook

This new way of understanding disease is changing medicine

Malta and Slovakia: MEPs warn of lack of judicial independence and corruption

G20 LIVE: Fact Sheet from the G20 Leaders Summit and key outcomes (G20 Antalya 2015 Summary)

Civilians ‘continue to pay highest price’ in Ukraine conflict, with peace prospects losing ‘momentum’

Why AI will make healthcare personal

Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela

“We are in Europe, but not of it”, from Churchill to Cameron: British Exceptionalism now threatens the entire EU Edifice

Bangladesh elections: Hold those responsible accountable for ‘violent attacks and intimidation’

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

The untold story of who caused and who pays for the economic crisis

How painful is the Greek tragedy for the Germans?

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

Trust links up supply chains. How do you establish it in the digital era?

Wind farms now provide 14% of EU power – these countries are leading the way

Erasmus+: an expected budget of €3 billion to be invested in young Europeans and to help create European Universities in 2019

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

Macron in St. Petersburg didn’t oppose Trump on Iran, in Putin’s presence

‘More time’ agreed for buffer zone, to spare three million Syrian civilians in Idlib

Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Nordic noir: The unhappiness epidemic affecting young people in the world’s happiest countries

Youth Parliament to finalise millennials´ priorities for future of the EU

Thousands risk lives fleeing fighting in Syria’s last ISIL stronghold

Will the three major parties retain control of the new EU Parliament?

Security Council hails ‘historic and significant’ joint peace declaration by Ethiopia and Eritrea

JADE Spring Meeting 2017 – day 3: JADE Academy trainings, networking session and gala dinner – Excellence Awards winners revealed

Mobile young people create the European labour market of tomorrow

An FTA between EU-US to hurt South Korea

Commission launches debate on more efficient decision-making in EU social policy

Why business can no longer turn a blind eye to poor vision

ECB offers plenty and cheap liquidity to support growth in all Eurozone countries

We need to bin disposable items for good. Here are 5 ways to do it

More Stings?

Comments

  1. Thanks fօr any other informative website. The plаce elѕe may I get
    that kіnd of info writtеn in sᥙch a perfect way?
    I have a venture that Ⅰ am simply now гunning on, and I’ve ƅeen on the glance out for such information.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s