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BRUSSELS, October 2. /TASS/. The issue of the European Union’s further sanctions against Russia is connected not with specific inhabited localities or control zones in embattled eastern Ukraine but with observation of the truce there, an EU source in Brussels told TASS.
The source commented on earlier circulated media reports that claimed the EU could impose additional sanctions on Moscow should the city of Mariupol and the Donetsk Airport come under control of the militia.
So, he said, should the truce be violated by pro-Russian forces, should they carry out a large-scale military operation, this could become a pretext for the toughening of sanctions. But the criterion here is the effectiveness of the peace process, he said.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) refused to comment on specific conditions that could lead to toughening or softening of the sanctions regime against the Russian Federation.
The EEAS said it is monitoring the situation and will submit its assessments by the end of the month to the EU Council for it to make decisions on preserving or changing the sanctions regime against Russia. The EEAS also noted active cooperation with monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) stationed in the conflict zone.
Meanwhile, in line with reports from TASS' diplomatic sources in Brussels, there are still sharp differences among the 28 EU member states on what to do with anti-Russian sanctions. In such conditions, a decision of the EU summit due in Brussels October 22-23 will most likely be needed to change the sanctions regime to any extent.
The positions of supporters of new sanctions have also been weakened by general understanding in Europe that all restrictive measures against Russia have already proven totally ineffective. Although they have done certain harm to the Russian economy, including the ruble-dollar and ruble-euro exchange rate fall, they have not affected Russia’s policy in any way.
Russia came under Western sanctions, originally visa bans and asset freezes, for incorporation of Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February. Later, Western claims that Russia is taking part in hostilities in southeast Ukraine, which Moscow has repeatedly denied, resulted in more serious, sectoral, restrictions.
In response, Moscow imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
The UN says some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR).
The European Union and the United States imposed the latest batch of sectoral sanctions on Russia on September 12 despite a deal on a ceasefire, signed in Minsk a week before, between Kiev and the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR in the southeast of Ukraine.