Russia threatened of severe sanctions by the EU
Euromaidan protests in Munich

On Thursday, following the recent crisis in Crimea, the European leaders announced that the EU has suspended its negotiations on investment and visa-free travel with Russia and has threatened to strengthen its sanctions in case Russia didn't undertake necessary steps in order to stabilize the violence that is being applied against Ukraine.

François Hollande warned that the EU will implement more actions if Russia keeps on using violence in its demand on Crimea. More actions would include to withdraw the participation of the EU leaders in the Sochi G8 Summit in June, to implement visa sanctions and to freeze Russian assets. “Not to raise I don't known what sort of tension again but, on the contrary, to open dialogue,” he said. The French leader commented on the fact that the association agreement doesn't mean European membership. “For those of you [in the press] who are not specialists, ‘association’ does not mean ‘integration’ and it does not mean ‘accession’”

Therefore, the US has already announced its intention to impose sanctions against individual Russian officers very soon, if Russia contributes to the crisis in Ukraine. In her discourse, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the actions that Barack Obama would intend to apply against Russian state.

The British PM David Cameron mentioned that the EU went further than expected by underlying: “We know from our history that turning a blind eye when nations are trampled over and their independence trashed stores up far greater problems in the long run. So we must stand up to aggression, uphold international law and support people who want a free, European future.” And in addition: “Europe has taken some important steps forward. That is progress and good progress – not as much as some people would want. But from where we were yesterday, from what people thought this meeting would achieve, I think that is quite further advanced.”

In order to demonstrate a stronger support from the European side, the EU leaders agreed to sign the political part of the EU-Ukrainian Association agreement, meanwhile “unilaterally lowering tariffs on Ukrainian imports”.Merkel noted that trade-related part of the agreement will be discussed due to the fact that Ukraine has very tough ties and trade-dependency on Russia.

What regards the US sanctions already undertaken against Russia, the president of the European Council Herman van Rompuy emphasized that the US had referred more generally, while the EU leaders aim to utilize actions earlier and “the legal instruments are already in the process of drafting”. Merkel characterized the ongoing steps as a deeper transatlantic coordination.

Meanwhile, Russia accused and defined the actions threatened by the European leaders as “unconstructive”. The Russian Foreign Minister has stressed out that Russia is not intended to accept the sanctions, but it can accept all steps aimed at stabilizing the Ukrainian crisis as far as they are objective.

Nevertheless, the EU member states are deeply concerned about the consequences that the sanctions against Russia can cause. Russia is by far one of the most significant strategic partners of the EU, particularly in the energy sector. This was the case when the 28 countries putted their national interests aside by joining their forces to fight against violence. The Polish PM Donald Tusk described the talks on applying sanctions against Russia as “stormy”. “Maybe not everybody will be satisfied, but we achieved more than could have been expected just a few hours ago.”

Edited by: Celeste Concari 
Photo Credits: Ukraine Demo München