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EU to discuss extending sanctions against Russia at Brussels summit

March 19, 2015, 9:16 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
According to Bloomberg, seven EU countries are expected to reject the extension of the Western sanctions against Russia - Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Spain and Italy
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©  EPA/GEORG HOCHMUTH

BRUSSELS, March 19. /TASS/. The heads of state and government of 28 EU countries are due to gather for a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss whether it is necessary to extend economic sanctions against Russia.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will call on the EU to back the extension of anti-Russian sanctions until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented, a spokesperson for the EU foreign policy service told a briefing Wednesday.

"The offer that will be voiced by Donald Tusk, is still being discussed," the European diplomat said. Tusk is trying to coordinate it with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as their joint recommendation has more chances to get the support.

"A consistency should be created between the full implementation of the Minsk agreements and keeping the sanctions," the spokesman said, while acknowledging that a number of EU countries believe that introducing sanctions against Russia was an erroneous move.

According to Bloomberg, seven EU countries are expected to reject the extension of the Western sanctions against Russia - Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Spain and Italy.

Most of the EU’s economic sectoral sanctions against Russia are due to expire in July.

The majority of Brussels experts say that Europe’s sanctions pressure has had no practical influence on the Russian policy in regard to Ukraine and has only increased the anti-European sentiment in Russia.

EU plan to counter Russian propaganda

Besides, at the meeting the EU leaders may adopt a decision on setting up a body in Brussels that will "counter Russian propaganda." By the next summit in June, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will have to work out how to support media freedom and European values.

The summit may also recommend creating a special group of experts to focus on strategic communications while the specialists from the Baltic states will be in charge of the Russian segment of this work.

In late January, Mogherini said that the EU could create the Russian-language media. Later spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the European Commission would prepare by the March summit the ideas on establishing media aimed at the Russian-language speaking audience in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and the EU countries.

Russia’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told TASS in November 2014 that a campaign to demonize Russia in Western media was a manifestation of information war.

EU Energy Union

The EU heads of state and government will have to approve a concept for creating the Energy Union that will envisage checks by Brussels of all the intergovernmental agreements between the EU countries and foreign suppliers of energy and energy recourses, and namely gas.

The Energy Union will enhance transparency of the gas market and ensure that all the agreements with foreign suppliers fully comply with the European norms and priorities of energy security, a draft final document of the summit says.

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