EU talks up Russia sanctions but consensus may prove elusive

BRUSSELS: European Union seems determined to respond to new Russian efforts to annex parts of Ukraine with more sanctions, but finding consensus among member states has become increasingly difficult due to sanctions. punishment for the purpose of punishment Moscow bite into their own economy.
The 27-nation bloc has imposed six rounds of sanctions against Russia since President Vladimir Putin ordered its forces into Ukraine on 24 February. Banks, companies and markets were attacked – even parts of the sensitive energy sector – and more than 1,200 officials were arrested. targeted with asset freezes and travel bans.
What could have taken years to unify in the past was achieved in just over three months – the speed of light relative to the EU. But European economies that have been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic are now grappling with high inflation, with electricity and natural gas prices skyrocketing.
The impetus for the EU to act again was the announcement that Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine planned to hold referendums on becoming part of Russia. This could allow Moscow to escalate the war, especially after President Putin’s decision to call up 300,000 reservists.
EU foreign policy director Josep Borrell said on Wednesday that “Russia, its political leadership and all participants in the organization of this ‘referendum’ and violations of international law and international humanitarian law other economies in Ukraine will be held accountable.”
“Additional restrictive measures against Russia will be introduced as soon as possible in coordination with our partners,” he said in a statement after chairing an emergency meeting of foreign ministers. EU on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
But the political statements of Brussels-based officials are the easy part. Agreeing on new measures has proven extremely difficult. The energy benefits are hard to beat. Hungary has led to fending off sanctions that could affect supplies from Russia, but the country is not alone in hesitating.
The final round of sanctions was announced on May 4, but was only agreed four weeks later, as oil concerns divided member states. Instead of a new set of sanctions, a “maintenance and adjustment” package was sealed in July, mainly to close the gap to the agreed measures.
That said, the mayor of Moscow is one of 54 more people whose assets have been frozen, and Sberbank – a major Russian financial institution – is also targeted.
Meanwhile, technical work on the seventh package has quietly continued.
Pressed by reporters in New York for details of what could be coming, Borrell said the sanctions would target “new sectors of the Russian economy, especially – if I could. a little more specifically – the technology sectors”.
“I am sure that we will be able to find a unanimous agreement for the new package of sanctions,” he said.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive body – the European Commission – the body responsible for issuing most sanctions, was also adamant, but she was hardly earlier.
“We are ready to impose additional economic costs on Russia and on individuals and entities within and outside Russia that support (war), politically or economically. In addition, we will propose additional export controls on civilian technology as Russia transitions to a full-blown war economy,” she told CNN.
The European Commission should propose new measures in the coming days, but what has ultimately been agreed is likely to be less ambitious. New sanctions may be introduced only after much debate and hands-on between the 27 EU member states in the coming weeks; perhaps only after the referendums have been held.

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