While some EU members are keen to end anti-Russian sanctions, they are aware that even if EU sanctions end the US will continue to exert its influence on European businesses, as it did in the case of sanctions against Iran, Wirtschafts Woche reported.
The EU is due to reassess its anti-Russian sanctions at its next summit in June. While some members are keen to end them, there remains the threat that the US will take unilateral action to stop EU businesses from trading with Russia, German newspaper Wirtschafts Woche reported.
According to a survey of German enterprises conducted by the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, 60 percent of businesses want an immediate end to sanctions, and 28 percent are in favor of their gradual removal.
The newspaper refers to statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that anti-Russian sanctions will be lifted only in accordance with the Minsk Agreements that were signed by the Trilateral Contact Group, comprising Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE in February 2015 – which Russia has abided by.
On Tuesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and reiterated Russia’s concern that the Ukrainian government is not implementing the Minsk Agreements.
At a press conference after the meeting, Ayrault also called on Kiev to carry out the constitutional reforms outlined in the agreement. These are due to be implemented by the end of 2015, and would give greater autonomy to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Wirtschafts Woche wrote that even if the German Chancellor listens to EU members such as Hungary, Greece, Italy and Austria and removes sanctions, the EU will still face opposition from the US.
“Even if we dump our EU sanctions, the Americans will enforce their sanctions beyond their own territory,” one German banker told the newspaper. He referred to the case of anti-Iran sanctions, when anybody who operated counter to US sanctions faced potential penalties in the US.
“Fearing for their American business, non-US companies followed the orders on Iran,” Wirtschafts Woche reported.
“And because Washington will maintain sanctions against Russia, the Americans can indirectly dictate a stricter policy on Russia – irrespective of whether the Europeans want it,” the newspaper concluded.