Europe postpones lifting of anti-Russia sanctions until February

Europe postpones lifting of anti-Russia sanctions until February

The European Union’s decision to extend sanctions on Russia for another six months has come into force today. The decision was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

According to the document, the decision made by the Council of the European Union "concerning restrictive measures" against Russia "shall apply until January 31, 2019" and "shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union."

The decision followed the European Union’s summit where France and Germany informed other EU member states about the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Great Britain called for the EU to start extending sanctions against Russia for a year instead of 6 months but the Council of the European Union did not support London's suggestion, TASS reported.

A member of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education, Culture, a representative of the executive body of state power of the Ryazan Region, Igor Morozov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the future of European sanctions will largely depend on the development of relations between the European Union and the United States. "If they start a trade war, the European Union may form its own position in the interests of national economies. Then, if they do not get scared of the US sanctions, we will be able to discuss a new bilateral trade format. If the EU continue take cues from the US sanctions policy and the Brussels bureaucracy proves stronger than the common sense of the leaders of European states, then these sanctions will be renewed every six months," the senator believes.

Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, agreed with Morozov, stressing that Europe will continue to extend anti-Russian sanctions automatically, until it is dependent on the United States.

"Many European leaders say now that sanctions should be lifted, but then everyone votes in solidarity for their extension. It will continue for a long time, since it is very profitable for the Americans - they lose almost nothing from mutual sanctions against Russia, but they get a discord between Russia and Europe, weakening both us and the EU. Therefore, the US will not cancel their sanctions, and the Europeans will not be allowed to weaken their own, at least in the foreseeable future," Alexander Gusev warned.

The head of the IMEMO of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexei Kuznetsov, said that "the principle of consensus when, if at least one country opposes the extension of sanctions, they are not renewed, works differently in the EU - if at least one country stands for, the remaining countries are in solidarity with this one country." "Since there are several anti-Russian countries in the EU, it is difficult to expect that in half a year at least one of these countries will not try to extend sanctions against Russia. The key issue here is the position of Germany and France," the expert said.

The European Union earlier imposed several sanction packages on Moscow, which include economic sanctions, individual restrictions and Crimea-related sanctions.

Sectoral sanctions, initially levied on July 31, 2014, concern financial, energy and defense industries, as well as dual-use goods. Economic sanctions particularly restrict access to the EU’s primary and secondary capital markets for five Russian financial institutions and their subsidiaries founded outside the European Union, in which the state holds a majority stake, as well as for Russia’s three biggest energy companies and three defense companies.

Sanctions also impose an embargo on weapons trade and ban exports of dual-use goods for military purposes to Russia, as well as restrict Russia’s access to certain strategic technologies and services that may be used for oil exploration and production.

There are also two sanction packages which concern the Ukrainian crisis. One of the packages includes restrictive measures against 150 Russian individuals and 38 entities. This particular package will expire on September 15, 2018, but it also can be extended for six months.

Another sanction package relates to Crimea. It includes a ban on importing Crimean goods, making investments in Crimea, including real estate purchases, financing businesses, providing services, particularly in the tourism industry. European vessels are banned from entering Crimean ports, while European aircraft are prohibited from landing at Crimea’s airports, except for emergency reasons. These measures are extended for 12 months.