News / Europe

    EU Toughens Russia Sanctions Over Airliner Downing

    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (R) talks with Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini (C), and Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, during an EU foreign ministers council at the European Council building in Brussels, July 22, 2014.
    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (R) talks with Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini (C), and Croatia's Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, during an EU foreign ministers council at the European Council building in Brussels, July 22, 2014.
    Lisa BryantMichael Bowman

    The European Union moved Tuesday to toughen and widen sanctions against Russia amid anger over the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. 

    The EU will next consider more penalties hitting Moscow's defense, financial and energy interests

    The EU move was applauded by U.S. lawmakers who said on Tuesday that Russia must pay a price for events in Ukraine but that price can only be exacted with Europe’s full and vigorous cooperation.

    At a press conference in Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton outlined the new steps against Russia agreed to by the 28-member bloc.
     
    "We today decided to accelerate the preparation of targeted measures agreed at the summit last week. In particular, to put in place very quickly a list of entities and people, including from Russia, under the new enhanced criteria and to expand the restrictive measures to target individuals or companies who actively benefit from support of the Russian decision makers' responsible for the annexation of Crimea, of the destabilization of eastern Ukraine," she said.

    The new measures reflect mounting international anger over last week's downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The West accuses pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the aircraft, killing all 298 people aboard.

    Demands for justice
     
    Ashton joined growing calls for a full and transparent investigation and for those responsible for the plane's downing to be brought to justice.
     
    "We, in particular, call on Russia to actively use its influence over the illegally armed groups to achieve access to the site," Ashton said.

    "And we urge Russia to stop the flow of weapons, equipment and militants across the border so we can achieve rapid and tangible de-escalation," she said.
     
    The United States and Europe have already imposed targeted economic sanctions against Russia for supporting the insurgency in Ukraine.

    On Thursday, EU officials will present proposals for further sanctions against Moscow that might target financial services, arms exports and the energy sector.
     
    For its part, Russia denies any involvement in the plane's downing. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will do everything possible to facilitate the investigation.
     
    Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans called the EU measures forceful and unanimous. Roughly two-thirds of the crash victims were from the Netherlands.
     
    "This is a logical consequence of the decisions of the European Council and the lack of progress on the Russian side since then," he said.

    EU consensus
     
    Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski also expressed satisfaction.
     
    "I think we have a good result, one that should be satisfying to Holland, to the Dutch public, one that should make President Putin realize that this time we are for real, that this is serious, that we expect Russia to return the bodies, to collaborate with the investigation," he said.

    "If need be, to release or punish the guilty. And sanctions are a means to it," Radoslaw said.
     
    On Thursday, the EU is expected to publish a list of people and companies targeted by the sanctions, which are expected to include asset bans and travel freezes.

    US lawmakers urge action

    On the U.S. Senate floor, Republican Dan Coats said Russian President Putin is driven by “pathological insecurities” and “imperial ambitions” - and must be forced to halt intervention in Ukraine.

    “I suggest we do whatever is necessary to bring Russia’s economy to its knees," Coats said. "We need to see that [Russian] stock market plummet. We need to see confidence and support for anything Russia makes or exports denied.”

    But for further sanctions to be effective, the United States and its European allies must present a unified front, according to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

    “Brussels has the ability to send an unequivocal message to Russia this week that there are consequences for their continued provocation in eastern Ukraine, which has now led to the death of hundreds of Europeans," Murphy said.

    "Putin will blink if he sees there are real consequences for his economy. It is difficult for the United States to deliver consequences alone without Europe,” he added.

    But many U.S. lawmakers question EU nations’ pain threshold when it comes to sanctions that could harm their own economies.

    Republican Senator John McCain said so long as Europe depends on Russia for energy, EU sanctions will be weak.

    “The Europeans are not going to do anything," he said." If anybody believes that [European sanctions will be firm], I have some beachfront property for them in Arizona,.”

    Arizona, McCain’s home state, is landlocked.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    July 24, 2014 4:03 AM
    It seems to me that the endless talking about "Russian Sanctions"...blah...blah ...blah is just becoming Western's TV late night show past time.
    If US and its sister organisation EU are incapable of performing lethal operation to Putin in Moscow the way they did to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad years back, then I do suggest them to shut up, grow up, go home, take a leak and lick your wounds for a while. This is the only way to sustain your credibility of being member of "civilized world"!

    by: Patrick from: Ca
    July 23, 2014 12:56 AM
    Yyaawwnn,,, way to go Europe

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    July 22, 2014 10:32 PM
    The sit is still spiralling into a dead end. In addition to a list of extensive and sectoral sanctions, LIST/LIST, which need to be racheted in a very very incremental way; the need in my opinion is that the US/EU principals need to hold face to face meetings with Putin. There is a very small fractional potential posibility, that because of his soviet era upbringing, and the anti-West propaganda he was subjected for years, that he actually believes the soviet propaganda nonesense that is entrenched in his brain.
    The Ukraine is no one's henchman, the Ukraine is for all intensive purposesis close to needing life support. If Putin believes that the Ukraine is the West's henchman, he needs to be set straight; such language comes out of his Soviet era upbringing, and does not reflect reality.
    Face to face talking, may enable him to get out of ideas, that were not even correct during the cold war. Bottom line the West has not had nor never intended to conquer Russia and take it over, the Soviet propaganda engrained that idea in its citizens, and Putin appears to believe it.

    by: Alex
    July 22, 2014 12:25 PM
    Putin realizes typical KGB tactics. Today Putin at a meeting of the Security Council in the Kremlin declared that NATO has got close to the Russian border, and, probably, wants to impose war on Russia. Regarding the situation there in Ukraine he said that it was anti-constitutional coup which led to unconstitutional government forces in Ukraine. He remarked that there could never be in Russia what is now happening in Ukraine, because there is a democratic society in Russia.

    Additionally, Putin said that Russia will think for an adequate response to the sanctions. And yet one must admit that Putin is weak because of the mass theft, corruption and patronage in all sectors of Russian society, including the Russian army. For 15 years of Putin's having been in power from 1999 to 2014 and 15 years of formal support from the the US and the UE theoretically he could have captured half of Europe, but in reality he could not even be able to capture half of Ukraine.

    The next week or even earlier pro-Russian fighters probably will be finished in eastern Ukraine and there will be long-waiting peace all over that territory. And what will happen next? Will it follow the next 10 years of Putin’s staying in power, or Putin will face the fate of Yanukovych, we do not know. Anyway, the world must decide how to do business with Putin.

    by: Bill from: Pacifica, CA USA
    July 22, 2014 11:28 AM
    The inability of Leading EU powers to reach consensus only proves they are united only in currency. The downing of MH17 rests squarely on the shoulders of the EU. They should have put their collective foot down with the annexation of Crimea. If so this chain of events would have been long ago shorted.

    by: VTA from: Vietnam
    July 22, 2014 11:18 AM
    EU, you have been stupid already in one money (Euro). Now you do it again in MH 17. I can not understand what EU is doing. Sanctions on Russia is only one way to prove that EU is still smart but not much. So much sad for you - EU.

    by: Aviator
    July 22, 2014 10:30 AM
    It is absolutely shocking to read that France will supply a helicopter carrier and a second warship for Russia. How cheap human lives are today on "the altar of financial gain" Little wonder why Russia is able to evade responsibility for this dastardly deed. Had it been a French aircraft shot down, President Francois Hollande would have an entirely different stance.

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    July 22, 2014 9:44 AM
    The EU has cried wolf too many times; their repetition of the same words, very much sounds like the noise a parrot makes; repetition of words that the parrot does not understand. Steinmeier, is the fellow that did not understand what was occurring during the take over of the Crimea... in front of the press conference he indicated that he did not understand the situation, he would find out from his Russian counterparts, what was occurring.....? A man in his position, that does not understand a gigantic geopolitical earthquake, like the severing of Crimea from the Ukraine....not a very healthy situation.

    I do not think any one will take the EU seriously anymore, wrt the situation in the Ukraine, essentially we are now on the slippery slope of heading towards a very major confrontation, deterrence has failed, or more likely just go into autopilot, heading in the opposite direction..... and all the postmortem grandstanding, will not revive the patient. When parrots come across hyenas, parrots' only chance is to fly away and fast, and not stand and talk meaningless words.......

    by: flypaper from: NY
    July 22, 2014 9:29 AM
    The EU just proved that they place MONEY above the lives of their own people, how cowardly, how disgusting, how european... France will continue to supply weapons to the Russian killers, England will continue to launder Russian mafia money in London, Germany will continue to sell its soul to russia for a few more Euro's, all this while the funerals of the 300 dead are being held.

    Europe has shown its self to b more interested in the bottom line then justice. In the future I hope when Russia has Europe is backed into a corner by Russian aggression and begs the rest of the world for help the world remembers this day and walks away and watches Europe suffer like the poor 300 did.

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