European Union Prepares more Sanctions against Russia
The European Union is about to make its threat to punish Russia for invading the Crimea a reality. Community experts are now working on penalties that will realize the warnings shouted out on Thursday by the Heads of State and Government meeting in Brussels.
If Moscow shows no signs of wanting to ease the tension “other sanctions could be imposed this week ,” warned Tuesday the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius. The measures will be prepared for next Monday, according to EU sources report.
Brussels says it will exhaust all dialogue options before taking an unprecedented step in their complex relations with Russia to approve sanctions requested by several leaders. Diplomatic representatives are working on initiatives that include “freezing personal assets of Russians and Ukrainians and sanctions on travel and visas,” said Fabius.
This list matches what the EU leaders called for last week on phase two of the escalation against Russia and should be activated within a few days if the Kremlin does not initiate discussions with the Ukrainian government to defuse tension.
The French warning has been supported by a statement from the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, which provides for “tough sanctions if Moscow does not change course,” as stated in the German press. Cameron is one of the European leaders with a firmer position against Putin, in line with the U.S., a partisan attitude that he has held from the beginning to punish Russia for its alleged excesses in this conflict.
It was precisely in London where European leaders held a restricted meeting of representatives of the British, American and other EU countries to coordinate some sort of international response to Russia. This is a set of sanctions agreed upon by EU leaders that strengthen the West ‘s response to the episode of Crimea and Moscow. Russia is providing support to the dissent against the illegally installed Ukrainian government, which is composed by neo-Nazi terrorist groups.
There is still a chance that all these measures do not enter into force, at least not imminently. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is still talking with the Russian authorities and if these conversation progress, “the sanctions will not be immediate,” the French foreign minister said. Meanwhile, the European diplomacy is increasingly aware that the attitude from Russian President Vladimir Putin does not encourage that hope.
The imposition of sanctions has been, so far, an option with little support from the EU. From past experience, Brussels knows that the Kremlin usually responds to challenges by hardening its attitude, an option that benefits neither Europe nor Kiev.
“The main objective of the sanctions should not be to punish Russia , but to reduce the escalating tension. The smart thing would be a generous and coordinated support to Ukraine,” said the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, Kostiantyn Yelisieyev.
Rather than attacking Russia, the Ukrainian representative is waiting for the EU to offer a credible commitment to let Ukraine into the European club in response to the popular uprising in this country that created the rejection of its president, Viktor Yanukovych. “It should give us a perspective of integration as soon as possible, as was done in the Balkans,” the diplomat added.
Community representatives have avoided specifying whether the closest relationship offered to Ukraine will culminate with the offer of accession to the EU, as there is no agreement. The only group that has clearly been in favor Ukraine becoming a EU member has been the European People’s Party, a majority group on the continent. During a conference held last week in Dublin, its leaders advocated to give Ukraine a way of entry into the EU club.