MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. Extension of the European Union’s anti-Russian sanctions only freezes the current political conflict between Moscow and Brussels, Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council extended economic sanctions against Russia for another six months - till January 31, 2016.
"Actually, it means freezing of the current confrontation, the current political conflict," Pushkov told TASS. In conditions of no serious pressure from the European Union, Kiev seems to think it can "freely interpret the Minsk agreements and, as a matter of fact, simply ignore them," he said. "Hence, we have a dead end in the settlement of the situation [in southeastern Ukraine], a dead end in armed confrontation, because Kiev continues to shell living quarters, killing civilian population."
Moreover, according to the Russian lawmaker, it leads to a dead end in relations between Russia and the European Union. "All this entails what I would call a negative balance between Russia and the European Union: the European Union refrains from imposing more sanctions but it likewise refrains from mitigating and gradually lifting them," he said.
Russia, in turn, "is very much likely to extend its restrictions on imports of European agricultural produce," Pushkov said. "So, as a result of this decision of the European Union we will have a negative status quo rather than any progress. Notably, should the European Union has begun to revise the sanctions, it would have created a positive dynamics as it would have entailed reciprocal steps from Russia and would have given birth to a hope for certain normalization of relations."
Russia’s response to EU sanctions must be balanced
The European Union’s decision to extend sanctions against Russia was highly anticipated, and the response to it should be balanced to avoid further escalation of the situation, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Alexander Romanovich told TASS.
"The extension of sanctions was agreed much earlier - there were several decisions made by the EU, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. So the decision announced today was anticipated. In my opinion, we need to be cautious and take a balanced approach to imposing counter sanctions," Romanovich said, expressing hope that the Russian side wouldn’t take "hasty decisions and wrong steps."
According to Romanovich, Russia should display composure and self-confidence. "This situation was entirely predictable. I believe we have found a certain balance - certain actions are taken against us, and there will be retaliatory measures on the part of Russia. "There can be no doubt about it," the parliamentarian noted.
He also voiced regret over the escalation of the crisis in relations with the EU.
'Some are fighting in Ukraine, while sanctions are slapped on the others'
Linking sanctions against Russia to implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine is doomed to failure, a senior Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev said, condemning the EU decision to extend sanctions for six months.
"Linking sanctions to actions of third persons is a no-win and senseless tactics," Kosachev, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, wrote on his Facebook page.
The senator said the Europeans try to find the solution "where it’s easier for them" rather than it should be and can be only, namely in Kiev and Donbas. "Some are fighting in Ukraine, while sanctions are slapped on the others," he said.
"Brussels has walked into a trap itself, and the only way out of it is to hope that the conflicting parties will seek to comply with the Minsk agreements," Kosachev said.
If the 28-member bloc fails to change its policy towards the Ukrainian crisis, which has already killed almost 6,500 people, according to the UN, then the search for peace in Donbas "will be everlasting," he said.
'EU not yet ready lift anti-Russian sanctions but understands inevitability of this step'
The European Union is not yet ready to lift its anti-Russian sanctions but it is beginning to realize that this step is inevitable and the sooner it is done the better it will be for both the European Union and Russia, Ilyas Umakhanov, a deputy speaker of the Federation Council, or the upper house of the Russian parliament, told journalists on Monday.
He said the issue of sanctions had been discussed on the sidelines of the last week’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "And it was clear that at this point the European Union was not yet ready to abandon its sanctions," Umakhanov said, commenting on today’s decision of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council to extend anti-Russian sanctions for another six months. He noted however that the forum had demonstrated that "public opinion in the West is growing more and more accustomed to the idea that this step [lifting of sanctions] is inevitable and the sooner this step is made the more it will be in the interests of the European Union, Western businessmen and Russia."
He said the extension of sanctions was an expected decision, since "our ‘American friends’ is exerting big pressure on the European Union not only to extend the existing sanctions but also to impose new ones to embrace, in particular, the financial and payment system and expand the list of Russians who are denied entry to the European Union."
'Sanctions hurt Europe most, while US wins'
European countries suffer the most from sanctions against Russia while the United States benefits from these measures, the head of Russia’s leading Moscow State University, Viktor Sadovnichy, said.
"As a mathematician, I believe this is a paradox that Europe is hurt by sanctions, while the US wins the most," the head of the MSU, ranked among the world’s top educational institutions, told reporters.
Scientists from the US have started coming to Russia, including to the MSU, actively, Sadovnichy said. "Several days ago Nobel Prize winner [James Watson] arrived and we met with him," he said.
Meanwhile, "there is a kind of a signal for the European scientists - be more quiet." Europe should be more independent when taking decisions in order not to harm its own interests, Sadovnichy said.