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MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Thursday’s European Union summit in Brussels ended with a number of encouraging signals in favour of a further dialogue with Moscow over settling the crisis with Ukraine and revising anti-Russian sanctions.
"We have to keep channels of communication open. I have known Mr. Putin for many years and I intend to swim in those channels and take advantage of that communication," European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said.
“There are no reasons for stepping up EU sanctions against Russia at the moment. The European Union must find a way out of the crisis in Ukraine in cooperation with Russia,” French president Francois Hollande believes. And Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that “on the condition of preserving Ukraine’s territorial integrity the European Union may consider the lifting sanctions.”
“The European Union's summit, which ended on December 18, makes one cautiously optimistic about the chances of a warming in relations between the EU and Russia, judging by the tone of the statements made there, the chief of European political studies at the Institute of International Relations and World Politics under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nadezhda Arbatova, told TASS.
“The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said in her opening remarks at the summit there was the need for building a responsible strategy towards Russia and a constructive relationship with it. In principle, the summit produced no breakthrough solutions on the Russian track, but in diplomacy the tone and form are no less important than the content,” Arbatova believes.
“As before, the European Union links an improvement of relations and the lifting of sanctions with the implementation of the Minsk Accords. Chancellor Merkel said that she was optimistic about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pronounced commitment to the peace settlement of the conflict in Ukraine,” Arbatova said.
“At the same time the conflict highlighted fundamental disagreements between Moscow and Brussels. Although the EU leaders said they had not considered the introduction of more sanctions against Russia, just as supplies of weapons to Ukraine, the sanctions that the EU adopted against Crimea and Sevastopol were perceived in Moscow as sanctions against Russia, because both Crimea and Sevastopol are an integral part of the Russian Federation,” Arbatova believes.
“The just-ended summit was not hostile towards Russia. It looks like the European Union has developed the awareness it would be wrong to take harsh measures against Moscow, in particular, in the context of the current financial instability in Russia, which backfires on the economies of the Old World,” said Kirill Koktysh, a lecturer at the political theory chair of the Moscow institute of international relations MGIMO under the Russian Foreign Ministry.
On Thursday, a source in the European Commission confirmed that the current crisis-induced financial trends in the Russian economy ruled out the possibility of more economic sanctions by the European Union. “A worsening of the economic situation in Russia is fraught with stagnation in the EU countries and the disruption of their post-crisis recovery efforts. For this reason no new economic sanctions can be on the agenda.”
“Most probably we shall see a winter pause in contacts between Russia and the European Union over the Ukrainian crisis, with a wide variety of diplomatic moves being made. Decisions concerning revision of anti-Russian sanctions may follow next spring, depending on how the events inside and around the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics will be unfolding,” MGIMO lecturer Yevgeny Kozhokin told TASS. He believes that in contrast to US politicians the European leaders are now concerned not so much about the Ukrainian crisis as economic relations with Russia. Hence the milder tone of statements at the EU summit.”
“The abolition of sanctions can be the sole encouraging and positive signal from the European Union addressed to Russia. Everything else is self-deception,” the director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Valdai Club member Mikhail Delyagin said to disagree with other polled analysts.
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