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MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. A year after Crimea’s reunification with Russia the attitude of the European Union’s member-countries to the introduced anti-Russian sanctions has developed a split. This must be evidence some EU countries have developed the awareness the sanctions proved very ineffective in settling the Ukrainian crisis. Besides, those who initiated the sanctions have failed to achieve Russia’s isolation, which still remains a beneficial economic and trading partner, the chief of the European political studies department at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Nadezhda Arbatova, told TASS in an interview.
At the moment the EU countries lack unanimity if they should follow in the United States’ footsteps to prolong the sanctions against Russia for another year. Greece, Italy, Hungary and Cyprus are not interested in this, for they have had to sustain major losses due to Russia’s counter-embargo on the import of food from countries that supported the sanctions. Spain and Austria are reserved. Germany, Britain, Poland and the Baltic countries tend to go ahead with putting pressures on Russia, but only under the influence of the United States. The European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, during his visit to Washington early this week acknowledged that the European countries had no common stance regarding the sanctions against Russia.
"To build consensus between 28 democracies — because it’s not only states — but democracies is very difficult," Tusk said in an interview to New York Times.
"It is true that the European Union has no unity regarding the abolition, prolongation or easing of sanctions against Russia. Countries in southern Europe have old-time close and stable trading and economic relations with Russia, and they are interested in retaining them and making stronger. Therefore politicians in Greece, Italy, Hungary, and Cyprus believe that anti-Russian sanctions have yielded no desirable effect, that they have harmed the economies and businesses of their countries," Arbatova told TASS. "The EU has developed a split between the North and the South. The Baltic and Nordic countries and also Poland are geographically far closer to Ukraine and react to the crisis in a far sharper way, because they see it as a threat to their own security and as a risk of an influx of Ukrainian refugees. So they keep insisting on further sanctions, hoping that in this way Russia can be forced to exert pressures on the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics to make them the conflict in the east of Ukraine," the analyst believes.
"The European countries are less involved in the turmoil of the Ukrainian crisis. They are more concerned about the problems of the Mediterranean. They wish to export their farm produce to Russia, to receive Russian gas and to welcome Russian holiday-makers. This explains why politicians from the South European countries have been holding talks on the possibility of easing sanctions in defiance of what the EU heavyweights may say," Arbatova said.
"One of the greatest problems of the EU policies is the anti-Russian sanctions are dissonant with Moscow’s initiatives for settling the Ukrainian crisis. While Russia has been exerting colossal efforts for the sake of convening a meeting of the Normandy Quartet’s leaders, for achieving the Minsk Accords on the ceasefire and the pullback of heavy armaments away from the engagement line in the east of Ukraine, when these agreements begin to be translated into life, behind Russia back there suddenly rises a chasing wave of the earlier introduced sanctions. That’s how the ninth wave effect works in keeping with the market economy laws," Arbatova said.
"The EU’s policy of sanctions towards Russia lacks flexibility. Given the shifts for the better in settling the Ukrainian crisis, including those Moscow’s diplomatic efforts have brought about, it would be logical to expect the EU should ease the anti-Russian measures. This does not happen, though, because the EU governing machinery is over-bureaucratized. The mechanism of coordinating a common stance of all 28 member-states is too complex, and in the final count that harms not only Russia, but the Europeans themselves," Arbatova said.
"For the United States and the European Union the Ukrainian crisis and the related anti-Russian sanctions have a very different meaning. For the EU countries the armed conflict in Ukraine is a tragedy in the heart of Europe, a tragedy with far more ominous circumstances than NATO’s bombardments of former Yugoslavia in 1999 or the events in Georgia in 2008. This explains why the EU leaders, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, have been exerting resolute efforts for the sake of ending the bloodshed. As for the United States, it has no clear strategy regarding the Ukrainian crisis at all. Obama is now faced with a dilemma — either to punish Russia or to end the conflict in Ukraine. Therefore the sanctions issue will remain on the Euro-Atlantic community’s agenda this year," Arbatova predicts.
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