EU Fatigue Over Russia Sanctions Shows As Putin Reset Looms

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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EU Fatigue Over Russia Sanctions Shows As Putin Reset Looms

European Union differences over Russia were exposed as leaders arrived for their last summit of the year, underlining the 28-nation bloc’s fatigue with a sanctions regime that is losing support globally.

Even as EU leaders agreed to roll over economic penalties imposed on Russia over Ukraine, they sent divergent signals on whether to widen sanctions against the Kremlin in response to Russia’s bombing of civilians in Syria.

The mixed messages underscored the shifting mood in Europe as well as in the U.S. in favor of resetting relations with President Vladimir Putin even as Russian forces are blamed for escalating a humanitarian crisis in the final assault on the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“To talk again about sanctions as the first response -- let’s first provide aid in the most practical way possible,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters as he entered the summit in Brussels on Thursday.

During his election campaign President-Elect Donald Trump made overtures to Putin, calling for an alliance with the Kremlin to fight Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and hinting at easing sanctions against Russia. French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, the frontrunner to succeed Francois Hollande after next year’s elections, has spoken of his “admiration” for Russia and said that he wants to revive France’s relations with Moscow.


EU leaders gave their consent to extending for another six months economic sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the unrest in Ukraine, with the official procedure to roll them over to be completed on Friday, an official said. “All member states understand that it’s already inevitable,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters, adding that the “written procedure is already in place.”

News by Bloomberg, edited by ESM. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.

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