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VIENNA, April 4. /TASS/. Austrian authorities understand how harmful are EU’s sanctions against Russia but the decision on lifting existing restrictions is not made in Vienna, Russian Ambassador in Austria Dmitry Lyublinsky told TASS on Monday ahead of the visit of Austrian President Heinz Fischer to Moscow.
"As far as I understand, Austria’s political leadership and especially representatives of business circles understand how harmful is this situation in relations between Russia and EU," Lyublinsky said. "For Vienna, lifting sanctions is of great interest. There are both economic and political reasons for that," he added. "There is more and more sentiment that the situation is dead-end and that the way out should be found," the diplomat noted adding that "this is happening not only in Austria but also in many other European countries."
Talking about linking sanctions with implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Lyublinksy said that "many European partners are growing tired from the line carried out by current Kiev authorities." "It seems to me that here, in Austria, more and more people understand the real situation but this does not mean that all European countries will immediately come to a common decision," the ambassador said adding that "Austrian partners take a rather objective positions but it would be fair to say that not everything is decided in Vienna."
Lyublinsky noted that Austrian colleagues "want to develop comprehensive bilateral and multilateral dialogue" with Russia, including on issues of fighting terrorism and overcoming migrant crisis.
The diplomat said it is not likely that Austria’s attitude toward Russia will drastically change after presidential election planned for April 24. "I don’t see any political forces in Austria that are anti-Russian," he said. "The pre-election situation is rather diverse. I would not want to comment on the international situation but we principally proceed from the fact that we will constructively cooperate with any new head of state," Lyublinsky concluded.
The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after a coup in Ukraine in February that year. New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July 2014 over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled south-east.
Russia responded with imposing on August 6, 2014 a 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 Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, and Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.