However, like Italy and Greece - 'opposing' the renewal does not mean it will veto it
It will be a nice turn of events for Russia if it happens.
French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron hinted this weekend in Moscow that his country would support an end to sanctions when they come up for renewal in July. “The objective we all share is to be able to lift sanctions next summer because the process has been respected,” he was quoted as saying in Le Figaro on Monday. For sanctions to be extended beyond July, all members of the E.U. would have to be in agreement.
The European Union and United States introduced economic sanctions against Russian finance and energy firms in July 2014, four months after the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, then an important part of Ukraine along the Black Sea. Russian president Vladimir Putin recently admitted that his government was also providing military support to separatists in eastern Ukraine. A civil war there has left as many as 9,000 people dead. Both Washington and Brussels extended sanctions late last year, with the E.U. extending for six months in December.
France is keen on getting these sanctions lifted because they believe Russia will return the favor and remove import bans on French dairy goods, which have hurt companies like Danone .
Russia has tried seeking alternative sources of dairy and recently began importing from Iran. Iran’s exports of dairy products to Russia may reach some $800 million in 2016, the head of Iran Dairy Industries Society said on Sunday.
Macron is not a lone wolf. French president Francois Hollande said earlier this month that he wanted bans to be lifted this year.
Sigmar Gabriel, the Vice Chancellor of Germany, mimicked Hollande’s statement in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Jan. 5. He said Russia sanctions were aimed at forcing Putin to a peace deal with Ukraine. He added, quite frankly actually, that “some forces” in Europe and the U.S. wanted sanctions to “cripple Russia”, the BBC translated from the German daily. “We want to help get the Ukraine conflict resolved, but not to push Russia onto its knees,” he said.
In a FORBES Investment Guide profile this January, Russia-based fund manager David Herne said that if sanctions were removed it would be a big boon for sentiment. “The removal of sanctions would be very good for investor sentiment in Russia,” Herne said.