World EU decides on weak sanctions against Russia

EU decides on weak sanctions against Russia

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648x415 le chef de la diplomatie de l union europeenne josep borrell a bruxelles le 22 fevrier 2021

The European Union’s head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, in Brussels on February 22, 2021. – Yves Herman / AP / SIPA

In November 2020, in Germany, where he was being treated after being poisoned in Russia, Alexeï Navalny warned MEPs: “the EU should target the money, the oligarchs, not just the old oligarchs, but the new members of the circle close to Putin ”. But the Russian opponent was not really heard.

A political agreement reached on Monday by EU foreign ministers only targets four senior Russian officials involved in legal proceedings against the opponent and in the crackdown against his supporters. The sanctions consist of a visa ban and an asset freeze in the EU for the persons or entities concerned. This decision “is disappointing”, reacted the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“We must be able to counter [la Russie] when it crosses the red lines on human rights, to react when it threatens us and to engage with it on subjects for which we have interests to defend ”, explained the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell . But, “it is hardly possible to sanction the oligarchs. We can only act against officials, and that only if we have proof ”, explained the head of Luxembourg diplomacy Jean Asselborn before the meeting.

Venezuela’s blacklist is growing

Ministers also singled out other countries. They thus sanctioned the soldiers responsible for the coup d’état in Burma. “The European measures will strike their interests, because in this country, the military are entrepreneurs and they own parts of the economy,” announced Josep Borrell. They also sanctioned the attacks on democracy committed by the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela with the registration of 19 senior officials on the blacklist of this country which now has 55 names.

The ministers also decided on the principle of new sanctions against the repression carried out in Hong Kong by China. Finally, they announced to consider new measures against the power in Belarus. But three sets of sanctions have already been adopted against the regime and President Alexander Lukashenko has been blacklisted without any effect. And the support shown by Vladimir Putin confirms Minsk.

Disunited Europeans

Critics are therefore mounting against the ineffectiveness of targeted European sanctions. “Europe should not be afraid to use its economic levers against Russia,” argues Ian Bond, director for international political affairs at the Center for European reform. But “we should not wait for a united approach”, deplores the Italian Gianni Rotta, expert in disinformation with the European Commission in an interview for the Carnegie Europe center.

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