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EU holds off announcing new Russia sanctions

Europe continues an incremental approach toward Moscow despite public outrage over MH17.

Mh17 mourners 2014 07 22Enlarge
Mourning in Amsterdam after the MH17 crash. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

LISBON, Portugal — A meeting of European Union foreign ministers on Tuesday produced no immediate new sanctions in response to the killing of 298 people on flight MH17, but the EU says it is moving toward tougher measures that could include restricting defense exports and limiting Russia's access to capital markets.

The EU is set to approve an expanded list of individuals, companies and entities to be hit with travel bans and asset freezes on Thursday.

At the same time, EU experts will present proposals for wider sanctions, "including on access to capital markets, defense, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector," said a statement from the 28 ministers after their meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels.

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski — among the leading voices calling for strong European action — said the decision "should make President Putin realize that this time we're for real, that this is serious."

However, the incremental nature of the European response is a disappointment to those who had hoped for quick action. Britain had appealed for an EU arms embargo while Lithuania asked for the Russian-backed groups who have seized parts of eastern Ukraine to be blacklisted as terrorist organizations.

Frans Timmermans, the foreign minister of the Netherlands — which lost 193 people in the apparent missile strike over Ukraine — declined to directly answer a journalist's question about whether he was satisfied with the EU decision.

"I'm happy with the fact that so many of my colleagues expressed solidarity and support for the victims and their loved ones," he said after the meeting. "I'm also happy that we did take a decision that is, I think, quite forceful and we reached this decision unanimously."

Getting unanimity on more direct action proved impossible.

On the eve of the meeting, French President Francois Hollande made clear he would resist pressure from several EU nations to suspend the planned delivery to Russia of a high-tech warship — designed to carry surface-to-air missiles and attack helicopters — which is currently being constructed in a French shipyard.

"The deal was concluded in 2011, the ship is almost finished and it must be delivered in October," Hollande was quoted telling reporters in Paris. "The Russians have paid, we'd have to pay them back 1.1 billion [euros, or $1.5 billion]."

Hollande did, however, suggest the delivery of a second Mistral class assault vessel planned for 2016 would depend on "Russia's attitude."

Earlier on Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament in London that it would be "unthinkable" for Britain to consider delivering a warship to Russia under similar circumstances.

French officials retorted that Cameron should focus more on cracking down on Russia's use of the City of London's financial markets, BP energy deals and London's role as a playground for Russian oligarchs.

Britain’s finance minister, George Osbourne, on Monday said London was now prepared to take an economic hit in order to increase pressure on Putin.

The range of areas the EU is looking at could include limiting Russian access to European capital markets, which could further harm the country's recession-hit economy.

Restricting so-called dual-use exports that might have military purposes and the sale of high-tech goods to Russia's key energy sector could also have a serious impact.

More from GlobalPost: Here's all the evidence (so far) that pro-Russian separatists shot down MH17

And there may yet be an EU arms embargo, albeit one that excludes the French warships by covering only new military contracts.

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini — who has been criticized for taking too soft a line due to Italy's close energy ties with Russia — said the imposition of economic sanctions looked "inevitable" unless Putin displays a major turnaround.

To avoid sanctions, the EU wants the Kremlin to ensure that Russian-backed fighters in eastern Ukraine cooperate with the international investigation into the missile attack, end the flow of weapons and fighters over the border, and withdraw Russian forces massed close to Ukraine.

But there will be no be automatic adoption of economic sanctions. Some officials said a new summit of EU leaders would be needed for that. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/140722/eu-new-russia-sanctions-mh17

Sid Harth 7 months ago
Moscow’s aims were not limited to Crimea. There was obviously an intention to carve up Ukraine, with a “Novorossia” established in the east and south of the country, also giving Russia de facto veto power over the rump of Ukraine. In his triumphant presidential address in the Kremlin on March 18, Vladimir Putin laid out a revisionist vision of uniting all the lands where Russians live. This fuelled fears across large parts of Europe, as well as among his Eurasian partners in Belarus and Kazakhstan. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister, added fuel to the fire by claiming that his country has the right to lands where its blood has been spilled, referring primarily to Crimea. This is a medieval concept, one that we hoped had been put paid to in 20th century. There is little doubt that Russia has been encouraging and supporting the armed gangs trying to take over parts of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, having failed with similar attempts in the south. "It is certainly true that Crimea had been part of Russia for nearly two centuries. But there are few places in Europe that have not been part of some other country at some point" A crucial part of this has been a brutal propaganda offensive, the like of which we have not seen for decades in Europe, and which has spread fear and division in Ukrainian society while seeking to whitewash Russian policy. Last autumn, Mr Putin consolidated all the information and “news” resources of Russia in order to create a more effective instrument in this respect. It has been said that, while in the past a war was initiated by an artillery barrage, today it is by a disinformation campaign. In Ukraine, propaganda supported an initial phase in which groups of so-called “green men” – armed men in distinctive combat fatigues but no revealing insignia – took control of some buildings in the east. In the past few weeks, however, especially after the separatists rejected a peace plan offered by Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, heavy weaponry has increasingly been turning up with them. Regular Russian forces have also been redeployed very close to Ukraine’s border. Since late June, the separatists have claimed to have the surface-to-air missile system now seen as the one that probably brought down MH17. If true, one can assume that they did not buy it at the local store; nor it is likely to have been operated by village volunteers. Three things are now imperative. The first is to identify, apprehend and bring to justice those directly and indirectly responsible for this outrageous act. The international community should not rest until that has been done. This includes trying to establish through an international commission a broad consensus on the facts of the case. The origin and the present whereabouts of the surface-to-air missile unit responsible for the outrage will be a critically important fact to establish. Russian co-operation or non-cooperation with this will be a test. The second is to help and assist Ukraine in every way possible. We must understand that the Kremlin’s time perspective is different from ours. The balance between their efforts to destabilise and our efforts to stabilise will be precarious for quite some time – not least on the economic and financial front. The third is the need to end the conflict. Mr Poroshenko’s peace plan has the support of the EU, and provides a realistic basis for a political solution. This requires Moscow not only to engage constructively with the effort to apprehend those responsible for the shooting down of MH17, but also to stop its propaganda campaign, end its extensive support of the separatists and accept that Ukraine is an independent, sovereign European country with the right to make its own decisions. The stability of large parts of Europe is at stake. The writer is the foreign minister of Sweden
Sid Harth 7 months ago
Modi’s BRICS Buddy, Putin in Trouble July 18, 2014 elcidharth modiputin July 18, 2014 7:10 pm Putin’s credibility lies amid the wreckage of flight MH17 By Carl Bildt In the past a war was initiated by artillery, today it is by disinformation, writes Carl Bildt A pro-Russian separatist looks at wreckage from the nose section of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane which was downed near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014. World leaders demanded an international investigation into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with 298 people on board over eastern Ukraine in a tragedy that could mark a pivotal moment in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT DISASTER CIVIL UNREST)©Reuters When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was blown out of the clear sky over Ukraine by a surface-to-air-missile it was, without any doubt, an outrageous act of banditry that must not go unpunished. Let us be clear on one thing: the crisis over Ukraine, which has been escalating since late last summer, has been initiated and driven by Russia at each and every step. And whatever details emerge over the downing of the Malaysian airliner on Thursday, it is here that the ultimate responsibility lies. A year ago, after a lengthy silence on the subject, the Kremlin decided it simply could not accept that Ukraine sign a free-trade agreement with the EU that had been ready since 2012. Moscow initiated severe economic measures as well as a nasty propaganda campaign to force Kiev to ditch the agreement and, if possible, opt for the Kremlin-centred Eurasian Union it hoped to establish. But the EU agreement was the free and deliberate choice of Ukraine. Every Ukrainian president and prime minister since independence in 1991 supported such a deal. In no way was there a conflict between the new free-trade deal with the EU and the old free-trade arrangements with Russia and other former members of the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that the EU deal does not go as far as Ukraine wanted. Any talk of the EU “forcing” Kiev to choose is uninformed. When Viktor Yanukovich, former Ukrainian president, fled the country in February – after 100 people had been killed by snipers in the streets of Kiev – the Kremlin unleashed a new and vicious cycle in the crisis. The invasion, occupation and annexation of Crimea was a clear violation of fundamental principles of European security and international law. The world has seen nothing like it since Saddam Hussein, then Iraqi president, invaded and annexed Kuwait in 1990 in a similar smash-and-grab operation, also claiming obscure historical justification. It is certainly true that Crimea had been part of Russia for nearly two centuries. But there are few places in Europe that have not been part of some other country at some point.
Sid Harth 7 months ago
Is Putin Sincere on Ukraine Crisis? July 22, 2014 elcidharth Ukraine Says Two Jets Downed By Missiles Fired From Russia KIEV, Ukraine — Jul 23, 2014, 7:45 AM ET By AARON KATERSKY Aaron Katersky More from Aaron » Aaron Katersky Correspondent, ABC News Two Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets were shot down today, the Ukrainiain defense ministry says. In this file photo, Sukhoi SU-25 planes fly over a Bagdhad airport earlier this month. Reuters Next Video New Evidence About Flight 17; Bodies of Fallen Passengers Go Home Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down today according to Ukrainian defense officials who charged that they were downed by missiles fired from the Russian side of the border. The planes, identified as Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets, were hit in the Donetsk region of the country not far from where the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was knocked out of the sky last week. It is also where Ukrainian forces are battling separatist rebels outside the city of Donetsk, one of the last separatist strongholds. The fate of the planes’ pilots was not immediately known. It happened at 12:30 p.m. Ukraine time (5:30 a.m. ET) while the planes were flying at roughly 6,000 feet, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council. PHOTO: Two jets were shot down near the Donetsk region, July 23, 2014. AP Graphics Bank PHOTO: Two jets were shot down near the Donetsk region, July 23, 2014. The spokesman said missiles were fired from Russian territory and repeated himself saying, “from across the border” in Russia.The Ukrainian rebels are ethnic Russians and the U.S. and other Western countries have accused Russia of fomenting instability in Ukraine and aiding the rebels by supplying weaponry and volunteers. The Sukhoi SU-25 are single seat combat fighter jets. That same type of jet was shot down by a missile July 16. The shoot-down of the jets over the town of Saur Mogila came in the same rebellious eastern part of the country where MH17 was shot down, killing 298 people on board. The MH17 flight was believed to have been shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system. Shortly before word of today’s shoot-down came, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told ABC News that he’s very concerned Russia has not stopped the flow of heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians are trying to break away from Ukraine. The Slow, Sad Journey Home for Victims of Malaysia Airlines Tragedy Malaysia Airlines Wreckage ‘Significantly Altered’ Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Donetsk, one of the separatists last strongholds. “We are very concerned that Russia has not pulled back on the flow of heavy weapons,” Pyatt said. “What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border.” Source: ABC ...and I am Sid Harth
Sid Harth 7 months ago
The spokesman said missiles were fired from Russian territory and repeated himself saying, “from across the border” in Russia.The Ukrainian rebels are ethnic Russians and the U.S. and other Western countries have accused Russia of fomenting instability in Ukraine and aiding the rebels by supplying weaponry and volunteers. The Sukhoi SU-25 are single seat combat fighter jets. That same type of jet was shot down by a missile July 16. The shoot-down of the jets over the town of Saur Mogila came in the same rebellious eastern part of the country where MH17 was shot down, killing 298 people on board. The MH17 flight was believed to have been shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system. Shortly before word of today's shoot-down came, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told ABC News that he's very concerned Russia has not stopped the flow of heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians are trying to break away from Ukraine. The Slow, Sad Journey Home for Victims of Malaysia Airlines Tragedy Malaysia Airlines Wreckage 'Significantly Altered' Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Donetsk, one of the separatists last strongholds. “We are very concerned that Russia has not pulled back on the flow of heavy weapons,” Pyatt said. “What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border.”
Sid Harth 7 months ago
Ukraine Says Two Jets Downed By Missiles Fired From Russia KIEV, Ukraine — Jul 23, 2014, 7:45 AM ET By AARON KATERSKY Aaron Katersky More from Aaron » Aaron Katersky Correspondent, ABC News PHOTO: Two Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets were shot down today, the Ukrainiain defense ministry says. In this file photo, Sukhoi SU-25 planes fly over a Bagdhad airport earlier this month. Two Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets were shot down today, the Ukrainiain defense ministry says. In this file photo, Sukhoi SU-25 planes fly over a Bagdhad airport earlier this month. Reuters Next Video New Evidence About Flight 17; Bodies of Fallen Passengers Go Home Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down today according to Ukrainian defense officials who charged that they were downed by missiles fired from the Russian side of the border. The planes, identified as Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets, were hit in the Donetsk region of the country not far from where the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was knocked out of the sky last week. It is also where Ukrainian forces are battling separatist rebels outside the city of Donetsk, one of the last separatist strongholds. The fate of the planes' pilots was not immediately known. It happened at 12:30 p.m. Ukraine time (5:30 a.m. ET) while the planes were flying at roughly 6,000 feet, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.