Comment on the EU decision to extend sanctions against Russia

Submitted on Mon, 12/21/2015 - 00:00

Comment by the Information and Press Department on the EU decision to extend sanctions against Russia

We have taken note of the December 21 decision by the European Union to extend the economic sanctions against Russia. We have to state this: Instead of developing constructive cooperation to deal with the key challenges of modern times, such as international terrorism, Brussels short-sightedly prefers to continue to play the sanctions game.

The link between the EU sanctions and the settlement of conflict in south-eastern Ukraine is artificial and groundless.

It was not Russia but the current Ukrainian authorities that provoked this conflict by using force to suppress the public discontent in Donbass over the coup d’etat that was staged in Kiev in February 2014. It is also worth reminding the EU that the starting point of this two-year crisis in Ukraine was related to that country’s plans for EU association.

For its part, Russia has been working hard to facilitate conflict settlement and to encourage the sides to implement the Minsk Package of Measures, and has made a constructive contribution to the efforts of the Contact Group and the Normandy Format dialogue. In 2015, steps towards a ceasefire and weapons withdrawal were made, mine-clearing agreements were reached, and efforts were undertaken on economic and humanitarian issues.

But all of these advances have been devalued by Kiev, which is not implementing its commitments under the Minsk Agreements or has just simulated efforts to implement them, specifically regarding the constitutional reform, de-centralisation, amnesty, a special status for Donbass and the resumption of socioeconomic ties with this region. The EU has vast opportunities for convincing Kiev to respect its commitments. But, as a character in a popular Russian film used to say, it “has many opportunities but no desire.”

As is obvious, there is no logic in the EU’s behaviour, for it is trying to “punish” Russia for something that does not depend on her but has much to do with the EU itself. The situation will change when the EU starts working with Kiev in a due manner and to encourage it to implement the Package of Measures that was approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2202.

Against this background, extending sanctions against Russia is an act of hypocrisy. It was initially wrong and misguided for the EU to believe that sanctions could force Russia to abandon its position of principle. This extension means that the EU remains captive to its own miscalculations.

21 December 2015