Today the German publication Handelsblatt, citing high-ranking sources in the EU and the government of Germany, reported that in December the EU may extend the economic sanctions against Russia for another six months. According to the newspaper, the decision may be taken at the next formal EU summit scheduled for December 17-18th.
At the same time the European official who requested anonymity said that the European Union has not yet begun to discuss formally the extension of the economic sanctions against Russia, this question will be decided in December: “There are statements by officials, but nothing concrete, no procedures have been observed in this regard,” RIA Novosti quotes the interlocutor as saying.
The official noted that usually decisions on the sanctions against Russia are taken at the level of heads of state and government. “The European Council takes a decision, and then begins the preparation of the regulations,” he said, noting that there is still some time, since the economic sanctions against Russia will expire at the end of January 2016.
As the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, stated in an interview with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, the decision stated by the German edition today is preliminary, because the main part will be considered at the informal summit in December, where it is likely that the sanctions against our country will be extended.
‘’They are expiring in late February 2016, but I believe that the EU, the European Council and the European Commission took a decision in September not to soften the sanctions or to cancel them. Most likely, they will be extended for another six months. The reason for this is, certainly, due to the fact that the sanctions against two Crimean companies and the leadership of the Republic of Crimea will be valid until the end of June 2016, so it is obvious that until the end of June, that is, the first half of 2016, the sanctions against our country will be extended,” the expert substantiated his assumptions.
“It is clear that this is largely determined by the position of the United States, which, in fact, dominates the EU and its supranational bodies, I mean, first of all, the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament. So, of course, so they are taking a decision, being consolidated. Now, during this time until December 17, they will ‘push’ the issue, because they need a consensus, they need to consolidate the votes of all 28 EU countries. So now it’s time to ‘twist the arms’ of such countries as Greece, Austria, Hungaryand the EU countries that have expressed their dissatisfaction with the anti-Russian sanctions, which seriously hit the economies of these countries. I remind you that even Greece, in the rather complicated competition on the European market, has lost about 70 billion euros, this is, of course, an unprecedented sum for a country with a public debt of over 320 billion euros.
Hungary has lost a lot of money, Poland, the Scandinavian countries, Finland itself declares that it does not agree with the policies of Brussels and is ready, if not to vote for the lifting of sanctions, then, at least, to convince the Europeans that the sanctions can and must be lifted, according to them, but the term should be limited to a half,” the political scientist said, stressing that he believes that Europe will not lift sanctions against Russia before June 2016.
“I am deeply convinced that the sanctions they imposed are not for a short time. In fact, what now prevents the Europeans from taking steps to lift the sanctions? Yes, absolutely nothing. They refer to the fact that Russia does not fulfill the Minsk Agreement, this is the main motive. But what actions of Russia can be discussed if Russia is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine, this is the first thing, and secondly, Russia has always insisted, and was the initiator of the Minsk Agreement of February 12th, 2015 within the Normandy quartet. And in fact, Putin proposed to the members of the Normandy Quartet to accept them, he even himself, personally, wrote seven main points before February, in November 2014, which formed the basis of the Minsk Agreement of February 12th 2015. So, of course, Russia cannot not do what it has proposed,” the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting said.
“In any case, the actions of the European Commissioners are dictated, first of all, by the pressure that is exerted on them by the US, and for the US it is very advantageous when the EU and Russia are in a state of ‘cold peace’. Because we have each other as strategic partners, we have had a sufficiently large turnover, it is now, perhaps, on a smaller scale, but nevertheless, the Americans have one single purpose by complicating our relationship: to sow unrest in Europe, to establish a system of so-called ‘controlled chaos’ in which the EU may get into conflict with Russia, which is one of the main dominant countries outside the EU and with which, of course, it is necessary to be friends. Therefore, with regard to sanctions, they will be extended, I think, for the whole of 2016, ” the professor said.
“Of course, there are reasons to lift the sanctions, but there won’t be a lifting of the sanctions, because the pretext is contrived. Without the situation in Ukraine there would be a different situation, as a result of which the EU would impose sanctions against the country. It could be Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, whatever. Any country of the post-Soviet Commonwealth, or at all, as they say, is another story. This could be a reason that is not located in post-Soviet space, it could be a problem with our expansion, as they say, in space, it could be a situation with the construction of nuclear facilities, it could be the situation with Syria, whatever. Therefore, Ukraine is just an excuse,” Alexander Gusev concluded.
A Senior Fellow at the Center for European Studies (University) of the MFA of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Olenchenko, told Vestnik Kavkaza that, if viewed objectively, the overall economic situation in the EU is far from that which could be considered good and favorable.
“There is a growth in the level of stagnation, and stagnation means almost zero growth, a little more. Accordingly, of course, the EU would be interested in any additional stimulus, and this stimulus could be the Russian market, for example. The sanctions close off this market to the EU. It is a part of the answer what this would give the EU,” the expert explained.
“Why are these sanctions being maintained? I have looked at the source of the appearance of this information. The source is the results of the meeting between British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They had three topics, one of them was Syria, the second was the possible membership of the UK in the EU, or rather, the consequences of the referendum, and the third was the issue of sanctions. Naturally, the United Kingdom, along with several other countries in the EU, such as Poland and the Baltic countries, is a proponent of tough measures against Russia, maintaining sanctions and even tightening them. Therefore, I do not exclude that this issue was voiced at the meeting between Cameron and Merkel, and most likely, he managed to reach agreement from Merkel, in principle, that Germany would support the idea of extending the sanctions. It seems so to me from the information that was available about the results of this meeting,” Vladimir Olenchenko said.
“As for the sanctions, they expire, as far as I recollect, on February 16th 2016. The meeting of the EU in December is a regular one. According to the regulations of the EU, summits, that is, meetings at the level of the leaders and heads of government, are held twice a year. This semi-annual summit, accordingly, will be conducted in Luxembourg, as Luxembourg is chairing the EU during the second half of 2015. For instance, if we look at the agenda which Luxembourg us proposing, there is no such rigid imperative. So the issue has arisen recently and it is likely to reflect the views of the country. I think that most likely this statement at this stage is in the nature of the problem to see how other countries in the same EU will react at the meeting in December – to see and to understand who is for and who is against, and try to find some kind of consensus. This is in terms of the tactics that Merkel and Cameron are following,” the analyst said.
‘’It is difficult to say what result they will achieve, because I cannot say that the positions of the United Kingdom and Germany are very consistent, sometimes they change direction. If you look at the leadership of the European Commission, at Gunther, and the Head of the Foreign Service of the EU, Federica Mogherini, it seems to me that they are taking a balanced approach. And I have not yet heard any statements from them regarding extending the sanctions. I have not heard any statements in favor of extending the sanctions by the European Parliament President, Schulz. I’m just naming those key figures that affect that decision. Let’s see what position France, Italy and the other large political heavyweights in the EU will take,” Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.