Sanctions against Russia ‘are working’, says EU

Sanctions against Russia ‘are working’, says EU

As the EU prepares to impose a new sanctions package against Russia, the bloc’s foreign ministers insisted on Monday (July 18) that the previous six waves of sanctions have been effective.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán last week denounced the EU’s sanctions strategy against Russia, saying Brussels was doing more damage to Europe’s economy than Moscow’s and that it was ‘was “shot in the lungs” by affecting the energy supply.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, where EU foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss ways to close loopholes in the sanctions regime and increase pressure on Russia, the head of the Union’s diplomacy, Josep Borrell, rejected this assertion.

“Some European leaders have said that the sanctions were a mistake, a fault”Mr. Borrell told reporters.

“Well, I don’t think that’s a mistake. This is what we had to do, and we will continue to do it”he added, chastising member states for raising questions about how the measures could increasingly threaten energy supplies to the EU itself.

The available data show rather that ” the price of oil is at the same level as before the war, at the same level as in February[2022]»he told reporters.

Most EU member states say the sanctions are effective, but it will take time before their full impact on the Russian economy is felt.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the EU has adopted six sanctions packages: asset freezes and visa bans for Russian oligarchs and officials, export controls, central bank asset freezes, disconnection of banks from the SWIFT messaging system and a ban on Russian coal and oil imports.

Borrell noted that EU officials were drawing up plans to ban imports of Russian gold, but added: “We are not talking about a ‘new set of sanctions’, but about improving the implementation of the sanctions that already exist. »

“We welcome the efforts of the Commission [européenne] and his proposals for new sanctions”said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrelius Landsbergis.

“But regarding the lists of people, we could think of an open list, where the names could be added as soon as we have the evidence, without waiting for a new package”he added.

“We must focus on a post-war European strategy”said Mr Landsbergis, adding that beyond focusing on how to punish Moscow, these are “the efforts to integrate Ukraine into the EU, to rebuild it, which will define Europe. »

The issue of unity

Some EU leaders and diplomats in Brussels are wary, however, of what rising inflation and rising energy and food prices could mean for the union’s unity on sanctions.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn rejected the idea of ​​waiving the sanctions: “It would be fatal if we did. It’s our credibility that’s at stake.”.

“Normally, we would have to use diplomacy, at the UN, to try to solve this problem. But we are not in a normal period. We are in a period where the laws of the jungle matter”did he declare.

In addition, many European countries remain dependent on Russian gas for their energy supply.

Russia, however, has begun to disrupt Europe’s gas supply, threatening the energy security of countries like Germany, the EU’s industrial power.

“Russia is trying to demoralize us”German Minister of State for European Affairs Anna Luehrmann told reporters.

“We will continue to support Ukraine, both economically and politically, but also with military means”said Ms. Luehrmann. “It is very important that the sanctions are maintained”she added.

EU foreign ministers also spoke via video link with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who in his remarks urged them not to let up on Mr Putin.

“Backing down and bending to his demands won’t work, it never has. It’s a trap “Mr. Kuleba said.

“I am sure that in the weeks to come, other voices close to the Kremlin will urge public opinion to give Mr. Putin what he wants so that he leaves Europe alone”he told his European counterparts.

“We should actively counter these discourses”Mr. Kuleba added.

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