PARIS, January 5. /TASS/. The European Union’s leaders should be guided not by emotions but by commonsense in the issue of whether to cancel anti-Russian sanctions, and they should not link the step to progress in the Ukrainian settlement, a senior Russian lawmaker said Monday while commenting on French President Francois Hollande’s statements.
Hollande said on France Inter radio that deterioration of the economic situation in Russia is no good for Europe and that “now sanctions should be stopped.” He also added that sanctions “should be dropped if there is progress (on Ukraine).”
In comment on this, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said: “Emotions should give way to commonsense.”
“In this case, both Hollande’s statements and the signals coming out from other European capitals — Berlin, Rome — show that the situation, although slowly, is still developing in the desired direction,” Kosachev said.
The senator said Hollande’s statement cannot be considered a sign of split in the EU political elites, as there has been no “united front” regarding sanctions.
“It’s a different matter that there is rather tough discipline in the European Union, when the opinion of EU leaders is being imposed on all EU members by force and administrative methods,” he said.
Kosachev said Brussels should listen to voices from Hungary, Slovakia, Finland “which have been very much skeptical regarding sanctions from the very beginning.” He said “the EU is beginning to realize that heavy-handed discipline inside the EU is not the best way to manage the organization.”
EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Spokeswoman Catherine Ray, while commenting on Hollande’s statement on anti-Russian sanctions, said Monday that it is a personal opinion of the French leader.
In turn, Kosachev welcomed Hollande’s words, but said he was disappointed with the fact that “cancelation of sanctions is once again linked to achievement of progress in the Ukrainian crisis.”
“This is by definition a wrong link, as progress in the Ukrainian crisis depends not on the position of Russia or some other side. It depends on the actions, approaches and positions of the Ukrainian authorities themselves,” he said, adding that the Ukrainian crisis is internal.
So, he said, all countries who want the conflict settled should act jointly instead of making demands toward each other.
Kosachev also called for continuation of seeking ways out of the Ukrainian crisis “in the Normandy format, in the Geneva format — in all formats that help progress of the intra-Ukrainian dialogue.”
The positions of Russia and Western nations and Kiev on the Ukrainian developments differ radically. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the intra-Ukrainian crisis, but the West and Kiev accuse Moscow of “annexing” Crimea and participation in clashes in Ukraine’s war-torn south-east. Western nations have subjected Russia to sanctions.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of “annexing” Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum in mid-March 2014, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.
Crisis in south-eastern Ukraine
Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine’s south-east on the border with Russia, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, conducted since mid-April 2014, has left thousands of people dead, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.
The parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.
Sanctions against Russia
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s south-east.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.