EU extends existing sanctions against Russia
EU sanctions against Russia due to expire in March will be extended until September, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said.Source: Tanjug, TASS
The decision was made by EU's foreign ministers on Thursday "because of the deteriorating situation on the ground and Russia's refusal to comply with an agreement from Minsk," she said.
The EU will tighten sanctions against Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, by adding names in early February to the existing black list of persons against whom sanctions were imposed, it was announced in Brussels.
Diplomatic sources said before Thursday's meeting that the draft conclusions mentioned "further restrictive measures." This formulation, however, was not included in the final version.
The same sources said after the meeting that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias asked for the wording to be removed.
Mogherini also said that the EU was "ready to take new measures" and added, that a final decision on economic sanctions would be made by heads of state or government of the EU, whose summit is scheduled for February 12 in Brussels.
"The EU continues to support a political solution for Ukraine and the implementation of the agreement from Minsk," said she.
The session of the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU was marked by sharp debate between the majority of member-states, which had asked for the tightening of sanctions, and the minority, led by Greece, which was against their extension.
Several countries, including the Baltic states and Poland, argued for a much tougher approach that would include wider sanctions against the Russian economy, but there was no consensus on that.
Lithuania's foreign minister said before the meeting that he believes that the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk should be put on the list of "terrorist organizations," and condemned Russia for its "aggression against Ukraine."
The United States on Thursday warned Russia that Washington was considering new sanctions because of the crisis in Ukraine, and welcomed the European Union the decision to extend the existing measures as "a positive step."
The European Union has again missed a chance to get off the track of a simplified perception of the situation in Ukraine, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said.
"If we speak of the content of conclusions, then unfortunately the European Union has once again missed a chance to leave the track of a simplified and mechanistic perception of what is going on in eastern Ukraine, the track of sanctions pressure on Russia and one-dimension perception of reality," the Russian diplomat said, TASS reported.
Chizhov said the final document contains no criticism of the Ukrainian authorities: "The episodes mentioned have been chosen selectively, which can’t but suggest the thought of a regular manifestation of double standards."