News / Europe

EU Faces Challenges as Threat of Russian Sanctions Looms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko, center, talk after a group photo in NOrmandy, France, June 6, 2014.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko, center, talk after a group photo in NOrmandy, France, June 6, 2014.
Mary Motta

Washington warned Russia Friday that it could impose new sanctions if Moscow does not do more to defuse the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Obama administration said it has delayed implementation as it presses for unified support from European and U.S. manufacturers for the measures.

Meanwhile, at a Brussels summit, EU leaders set a Monday deadline for Putin to demonstrate support for calming the unrest in Ukraine.

In a statement issued Friday, the 28 leaders called for Moscow to meet several conditions, including visibly supporting the Ukrainian government's proposed peace plan. Ukraine's government also should be granted oversight of three major border checkpoints, according to the statement.

Two other terms include setting up a means of verifying the cease-fire and securing the release of all captives, the French news agency AFP reported.

If Putin fails to meet those conditions, Russia could face "further significant restrictive measures," the statement said. 

Analysts say the threat of sanctions is putting the European Union in an awkward position. The 28-nation bloc hopes to avoid a broader economic clash with Moscow that would hurt their own businesses.

Germany-Russia relationship

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly has warned Putin that the EU will consider a new round of sanctions against Moscow if it doesn't cooperate.

The relationship between Russia and Germany involves deep business ties.

With a heavy dependence on Russian oil and gas and extensive business interests in the country, Germany is in a vulnerable position with the U.S. threatening a new round of sanctions.

The close bond might explain why Merkel had been advocating caution on punishing Russia in her talks with the United States. Analysts say she was hopeful that Putin would eventually back down and accept proposals to ease the crisis.

But her confidence in the Russian leader faded after he admitted that he had sent Russian troops into Crimea this spring.

John Lough, with the Russia and Eurasia Program at London's Chatham House, says Germany is now starting to push a harder line against Russia.

"The Germans have been very shocked by Russia's behavior and by the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent destabilization," he said. "I think they see pretty clearly that Russia is playing a double game at the moment: that it is outwardly supporting the peace process at the moment, but it, at the same time, doesn't seem to be doing much to try to defuse the conflict in the Donbas."

The Obama administration's new sanctions would include imposing a ban on any interactions with some of Russia's largest banks, cutting off technology transfers to Russian energy and defense firms, and shutting down business with Russian defense companies.

This could prove difficult for the European bloc.

Financial impact

The EU is Russia's largest trading partner, and almost half of Russia's exports -- $292 billion worth -- end up in EU countries. Russia, in turn, is the EU's third biggest trading partner, with $169 billion in imports. And, Russia supplies about a quarter of the EU's gas.

Despite Europe's heavy reliance on Russia for energy and trade, Lough thinks the EU will impose some sanctions.

"I think that we have gotten to the point where if the Russians don't engage properly in this process of finding a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, then they can expect to see more things coming down the line," Lough said. "These will be highly targeted sanctions. I don't think we are going to see blanket measures -- imposed on the financial sector, for example -- but they could be things that go well beyond the blacklisting of specific individuals that we have seen so far."

Putin

Even if sanctions are implemented, analyst James Nixey of Chatham House says Putin's actions will not change.

"Putin is what he was. He is a KGB colonel with a specific view of the world and a few sanctions, (or) measures designed effectively to protect Western economies, are not going to change his basic goals, which are to ensure that certain states -- in this particular case, Ukraine -- remain east of an east-west dividing line," Nixey said.

Nixey says Russia will continue to try to destabilize Ukraine.  And, with Ukraine's own political and economic challenges, that could be an easy task.

"I don't see a prosperous, liberal democratic flourishing part of a west Ukraine any time in the immediate future, I am afraid to say," he said.

On Friday, EU integration agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova pulled the three former Soviet republics westward despite staunch resistance from Moscow.  That move, analysts say, will likely toughen Putin's resolve to continue to keep Ukraine in chaos.

 

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid