The European Union leaders have coordinated at the summit an extension of economic sanctions against Russia, a European diplomatic source has said.
Mutual understanding to extend the sanctions was reached at the summit, the source said. The formal decision is to be adopted within the next few days at the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union.
The current term of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia expires on January 31, 2017. Under the reached agreements, they are expected to be extended for another six months – until July 31, 2017.
The decision to extend sanctions has been expected. Most EU countries don’t believe they are efficient, but against the background of numerous appeals on both sides of the Atlantic to tighten sanctions because of Russia’s efficient actions to support the government army in Syria, the EU leaders are afraid that refusal to extend sanctions will be seen as feebleness.
About sanctions – everything is already agreed, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said upon her arrival in the Belgian capital for the last for this year summit on Thursday. “All member states understand that it is inevitable,” the Lithuanian president said, noting that “the written procedure is already in place”.
Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, told TASS earlier that the EU is extending sanctions for the sake of preserving unity, which has become a goal in itself.
“First, some big EU countries say that sanctions should be either cancelled or eased but immediately after that minor but vociferous states demand that sanctions be extended and expanded. And then, someone we all know (President of the European Council Donald Tusk) steps forward as an arbitrator and says: “Our unity is in danger so let’s leave it as it is. Does anyone want to vote against it? A unilateral decision is made!” Chizhov said describing the situation.
“This simple story has been repeating itself every six months. After that, the Council of the European Union makes a formal decision on extending sanctions while specific wording is made up by the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Sometimes it happens so that they don’t even hold a meeting,” he concluded.