News / Europe

    No Quick Decision Seen on Tougher EU Sanctions on Russia

    FILE - A person is seen through a window above a Gazprombank branch in Moscow July 17, 2014.
    FILE - A person is seen through a window above a Gazprombank branch in Moscow July 17, 2014.
    Reuters

    European Union ambassadors will debate proposals on Thursday on restricting Russian access to Europe's capital markets and defense and energy technology but are not expected to make a quick decision.

    Ambassadors from the 28 EU nations are expected to agree on Thursday to add the names of some Russian companies that are helping to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty to the bloc's sanctions list, using new expanded criteria.

    But they will probably need more time to agree to go beyond the asset freezes so far imposed by the EU and restrict Russia's access to Europe's financial markets and technology.

    Despite threatening tough action since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March, the EU has been divided over imposing economic sanctions on its main gas supplier.

    Jolted into action

    But the downing last week of a Malaysia Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, jolted the EU into action.

    Foreign ministers for the first time this week singled out sectors of the Russian economy that the EU might target with sanctions in protest at Moscow's actions in eastern Ukraine.

    The ministers said on Tuesday they could restrict Russia's access to capital markets, defense and sensitive technologies, “including in the energy sector,” unless Russia halts the flow of weapons across Ukraine’s border.

    To avoid tougher sanctions, Moscow would also have to use its influence with pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine to allow an independent investigation into what brought down flight MH17.

    “The Commission will be tabling tomorrow a paper with actions on each of the areas which were identified by the Foreign Affairs Council (ministers),” European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told reporters on Wednesday.
            
    Moment of silence

    The EU's executive body had held a moment of silence earlier in memory of those killed on the Malaysian airliner, which Washington says was downed by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

    European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger suggested on Wednesday that the EU should not give Russia technical help to develop Arctic oil and gas fields if Moscow failed to help defuse the Ukraine crisis.

    EU ambassadors will probably want to consult their capitals about the Commission's proposals before taking a decision on tougher sanctions and are likely to hold further discussions on July 29, diplomats said.

    The ambassadors also have to decide how long the EU will give Russia to comply with its demands before imposing the sanctions.

    Balancing the pain

    One reason it has been so difficult for EU governments to agree to target sectors of the Russian economy with sanctions is that they fear some EU countries could suffer more than others from lost trade or from possible Russian retaliation.

    The package of measures proposed by the foreign ministers was designed to balance the pain among EU member states.

    But data indicates that Germany and Italy have most to lose if the EU makes good on its threat, while Britain's overseas territories are soaking up the lion's share of capital streaming out of Russia.

    If ambassadors agree to the sanctions, it remains uncertain whether EU leaders would have to call an extraordinary summit meeting to approve them or whether governments would approve the decision in writing, without the need for a meeting.

    Also at Thursday's meeting, ambassadors are expected to agree on a legal regulation broadening the scope of EU sanctions to include people and companies that support or benefit from Russian decision-makers responsible for annexing Crimea or destabilizing eastern Ukraine.

    However, it may take until next week to publish a first list of people and companies targeted with asset freezes under this measure.

    Ambassadors will also work on additional measures to restrict EU trade with and investment in Crimea.

    You May Like

    Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.