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Sunday, December 4, 2016

The EU without Britain to extend sanctions against Russia


Sanctions against Russia should be extended, said Angela Merkel at the EU summit. The same opinion adheres and Francois Hollande. Thus, the leaders of the leading countries of continental Europe did not confirm the assumption that a British exit from the EU would put an end to anti-Russian campaign. Are there signs that the EU without the closest ally of the United States change its position?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in the framework of the Brussels summit, the EU announced that sanctions against Russia should be extended. “Regarding relations between the European Union and Russia: we – the President of France Francois Hollande and I talked about the implementation of the Minsk agreements. We are given to understand that due to the degree of implementation (of this package) the extension of the sanctions, unfortunately, necessary. Thus, in the way of extending restrictive measures already worth nothing,” – said Merkel.

“Sanctions will be extended, just in order not to add to the complete chaos that is now happening because of Brexit, another topic”

A senior European diplomat following the discussion at the EU summit added: “They (Merkel and Hollande) said that sanctions should be extended, but you must keep in mind the possibility of changing the sanctions regime in case of improvement or deterioration. Further discussion followed”.

In turn, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, according to the diplomat, stated that the issue of relations with Russia will be back in October”. However, “not to the question of sanctions, because in October the deadline (sanctions) does not expire,” said the diplomat. However, he noted that the Minsk agreements at the October meeting will also be discussed.

Influence of Brexit?

On the eve of the EU summit, the U.S. edition of the Wall Street Journal, citing current and former European and American officials, reported: “the Prospect of a British exit from the EU is likely to undermine consensus on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions are necessary to ensure Moscow from further military action”.

The publication reminded that while the EU economic sanctions against Russia decided to extend for another six months, some EU countries, including Italy, Spain and Greece can’t wait to start a debate on changing the sanctions policy.

UK – “one of the biggest hardliners of Angela Merkel on the issue of sanctions, along with Poland and the Baltic States,” said The Wall Street Journal.

Now, however, “the sanctions policy will be weakened, because the voice of the United Kingdom will not be as significant as we expected,” – said the publication of a former NATO official and a senior fellow at The Rasmussen Global consultancy Fabrice Potier.

The statement by Merkel and Hollande suggests that Brexit is not a hindrance to continue anti-Russian campaign waged by the proponents of the “hard-line” in Berlin and Paris.

Russia’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov believes that the EU will change stance on anti-Russian sanctions after Britain’s withdrawal from the Association. To have no expectations. I do not think that this position will change,” – said the diplomat, who was quoted by RIA “Novosti”. At the same time, said the diplomat, Moscow will not negotiate on the possible phased removal of sanctions and won’t be involved in this process.

“The sanctions – something current

Sanctions will be weakened, but the next day says the political scientist, chief editor of the magazine “Russia in global politics” Fyodor Lukyanov.

In comments to the newspaper VIEW expert reminded that the decision on the extension of sanctions has been made. There are some hitches associated with the positions of some countries (including France), while other EU States, for example, Sweden, not against sanctions, just busy with procedural matters.

“Now the European Union really not up for it. And sanctions will be extended, just in order not to add to the complete chaos that is now happening due to the outcome of the referendum, another topic that will be perceived by many as the beginning of a drastic turn, and this turn nor the Americans, nor many European countries will not be welcomed”, – said the expert.

Care UK in the longer term will influence the attitude to Russia, because Britain occupies the most critical position, but it’s not happening for three days, – said Lukyanov.

He suggests that the question of sanctions in principle, the key will fall in the end of this year, barring any new shocks, catastrophes in Ukraine. Then “the ideas of a number of countries: Austria, Italy, in part France and part of the German leadership that it is necessary gradually to start to dismantle this regime will be implemented. But it was clear even before “Brekzita”, – said the source, stressing that it is not necessary to directly link the results of the referendum in Britain, with the sanctions policy against Russia.

According to the analyst, “sanctions – it’s still a current thing”. After some time, they, with the exception of Crimea, will be lifted, he said.

“Leaving Britain unable to compensate for other levers of influence”

“The absence of the UK could have serious structural position for the EU, there will change the internal balance of power: whether it’s improving self-reliance in continental Europe and the decline of US influence or Vice versa – is hard to understand,” said the analyst.

At the same time, he believes that “today, the second option is more likely, although the UK as a loyal ally of the Americans leaving. Therefore, efforts will be increased to compensate for the withdrawal of other levers of influence,” – said Lukyanov.

So the main question is “on what basis will the relationship between Russia and the EU in the next historical epoch, when the old model is not only not desirable, but completely impossible”, – concluded the expert.

France and Italy still resist

Recall the action of sectoral EU sanctions against Russia expires July 31. On 21 June, the permanent representatives of the member countries of the European Union agreed on the extension until the end of January 2017. While recently it was reported that the extension of sanctions hamper France and Italy, that does not allow the EU to finally approve it. So, the question has not yet been able to reconcile the French Parliament.

On 8 June the upper house – the Senate – by an overwhelming majority (302 in favor, 16 against) adopted a resolution calling for the gradual relief of sanctions against Russia in parallel with the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The senators thus supported the deputies of the lower chamber of the National Assembly, who in April called for the lifting of sanctions. On June 20 the French foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that Paris stands for, the debate on the European Union sanctions against Russia at the summit, which will be held June 28-29 in Brussels.

The Italian government also wants to amend the final text. In particular, Rome intends to ensure that was included as a separate item on the readiness of Brussels to reconsider its policy towards Russia in 2016. Earlier, Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi spoke against the automatic extension of sanctions against Russia.

France and Italy are not the only opponents of anti-Russian sanctions. Earlier, foreign Minister of Austria Sebastian Kurz said that the EU should start to seek common ground with Russia for a gradual removal of the restrictive. At the end of may the Minister of foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said that the German government is considering the gradual lifting of sanctions in the case that Berlin will see the progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements”.

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