Awkward Moment for EU: Russia Wants to Loosen Sanctions for Some EU Countries

At the behest of a few EU members themselves. Can it lead to a split in the Union?

The article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated for RI by Anita Zalaldinova.


Russia has announced plans to relax the sanctions for Greece, Cyprus and Hungary. However, this should be done in such a manner not to cause problems for these countries with the EU. Russia wants in particular to allow the import of food products again.

<figcaption>Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov has always listened to the European partners (with the Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt of the CSU at the Green Week in Berlin in January 2015) (Photo: dpa)</figcaption>
Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov has always listened to the European partners (with the Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt of the CSU at the Green Week in Berlin in January 2015) (Photo: dpa)

Russia is considering a possibility to ease the ban on imports of food from some states of the European Union. Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov said on Wednesday, according to Interfax news agency, that the government would first of all approach countries like Greece, Hungary and Cyprus. The solution must not create any problems for these EU countries ‘in their relations with Brussels’. In 2014 Russia responded to the EU sanctions resulting from the Ukrainian conflict with a ban on imports of food. Western sanctions and the Russian import ban have contributed to the national currency ‘ruble’ tailspin and at the same time increased consumer prices in the country massively.

The Americans want to curb those three States even harder and prevent the EU countries from suddenly having different positions on the Russian question.

Greece called Moscow on the facilitation of the food imports some time ago. Athens wilfully rejected the sanctions. Cyprus allowed Russia to maintain a strong military presence. And Hungary has already suffered because of its partnership with Russia from the direct anger of Americans who imposed first sanctions against Budapest.

The US has extended its sanction list against Russia in the course of the Ukrainian conflict. The recent attacks in Ukraine by the rebels, who were equipped by Russia, infringe the Minsk Agreement, created to resolve the conflict, explained the Treasury Department in Washington on Wednesday. Whether the OSCE has the same opinion the Americans did not say. Punitive measures were taken against, among others, a Russian youth organization, which might recruit rebels, and against a Russian bank. If Russia continues to fuel the destabilization in Ukraine further measures will follow, warned US Secretary of State Adam Szubin. His colleague Victoria Nuland had previously accused Russia of numerous violations of Minsk 2 in front of a very hostile Congress committee.

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