Coffee House

Europe split over sanctions against Putin’s Russia

22 July 2014

7:07 PM

22 July 2014

7:07 PM

The European Council has spoken! We must all come back on Thursday after it has considered its approach to fresh sanctions against Russia. The communiqué from today’s meeting of the Council is full of fine ambition: albeit ambition that was agreed on 18 July. We are promised an extended list of:

‘…entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation…who actively provide material and financial support to or are benefiting from the Russian decision makers from the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine, and to adopt additional measures to restrict trade with and investment in Crimea and Sebastopol, at the latest by the end of July.’

After that verbiage the communiqué says:

‘The Council recalls the previous commitments of the European Council and remains ready to introduce without delay a further package of further significant restrictive measures if full and immediate co-operation on the above mentioned demands fail to materialise.’

The demands include the arrest of those responsible for the destruction of MH17, and that Russia uses its influence to secure access to the crash site and the cessation of the flow of arms, equipment and militants from Russia to eastern Ukraine. Russia is also ‘urged’ to remove its additional troops from the border.

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The ‘restrictive measures’ that are threatened do sound not very, well, threatening at the moment. See here:

‘The Council requests the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to finalise their preparatory work on possible targeted measures and to present proposals for taking action, including on access to capital markets, defence, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector.’

We can look forward to those proposals on Thursday.

Today has shown the European Union to be divided. Disagreements between Britain and France have been laid bare. David Cameron has condemned the trade in defence equipment between France and Russia. Francois Hollande has decried British hypocrisy over the flood of oligarchic money into London. Germany is remarkably quiet; the result, perhaps, of the flow of Russian gas through the pipes of the Nord Stream. Those pipes bypass Poland and the Baltic states, which are left to negotiate separately with Gazprom — a point of public conflict between Berlin and Warsaw.

Needless to say, the communiqué does not match the grand objectives described by David Cameron yesterday: ‘preparatory work on possible targeted measures’ packs all the punch of the England cricket team. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Britain emerges from this round of talks as the nation that was prepared to risk the economic recovery to secure peace in our time by teaching Vladimir Putin and his cronies a lesson. That this bold move had little chance of immediate success in Europe is neither here nor there; it’s the effort that counts.

While we wait for the Council, Commission and the EEAS to reach a conclusion on their collective preparations, it will be interesting to watch what happens in America. The US has targeted certain Russian firms and individuals by restricting their access to finance on Wall Street. This action has caused disquiet in business circles across the Pond, especially those oil and gas firms which have entered or are planning to enter joint ventures with Rosneft and other Russian entities. ExxonMobil is among this number. The Obama administration will come under pressure if the EU fails to match these sanctions — thereby giving European firms a competitive advantage. With this hanging over Obama, Ed Miliband chose the right day to visit the White House.


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  • Roger Hudson

    Some politicians think with their brains, others with their mouths. I know which I prefer.

  • rtj1211

    OF COURSE there is a split: the economic interests in Russia are unequal.

    Here’s a question for you principled far-right zealots: ‘I propose that everyone gives up their house’. If you have £10m, of which £9.8m is not invested in your bricks, you’ll be a lot less bothered about it than someone who has £4m of their wealth tied up in bricks, won’t you??

    America has sod all business interests in Russia so they can propose to do this. They’re hoping to loot Russia and Ukraine to gain ‘interests’ that way. And on the way, they can destroy all the Euro-Russian ties already developed.

    What is Britain doing sucking the self-interested nipples of Capitol Hill??

  • Mynydd

    Yet another EU failure by Mr Cameron, he talks of a century when in the home pavilion, but gets bowled out for a duck when batting in Europe. Unfortunately there are some who still believe that Mr Cameron can fundamentally change the EU in just two years.

  • Bonkim

    What did you expect? All ganging up on Brother Putin that supplies nuch of their gas, and invests in their businesses? Poor Cameron – who is going to buy your military hardware now?

  • JoeDM

    Remember that the EU and USA sponsored the coup that put the neo-nazi Ukraine government in power !!!

  • Smithersjones2013

    Don’t you just love the total disunity ‘ever closer union’?

  • Lady Magdalene

    What a waste of space the Council of Europe and EU are.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Just freeze the assets of a few of the oligarchs. That’ll shut him up rather quickly.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …are you talking about Call Me Dave?

      • The Masked Marvel

        If only.

  • lgrundy

    I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.

    • David Robinson

      . . . and do a U-turn.

  • Radford_NG

    EU Foreign Ministers have committed €2-68million for starters for a Police Mission to Ukraine(till Nov30):mission to last 2 years. Ukraine Radio reports.

    http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/en/148/571779/

  • colliemum

    How schizophrenic is this: “The demands include the arrest of those responsible for the destruction of MH17, and that Russia uses its influence to secure access to the crash site and the cessation of the flow of arms, equipment and militants from Russia to eastern Ukraine. Russia is also ‘urged’ to remove its additional troops from the border.”
    In the first place, nobody as of yet knows who was ‘responsible for the destruction of MH17’. Shouting ‘it was Putin’ without putting facts on the table, as the Russian military did yesterday, is not proof.
    And how is Russia supposed to stop ‘the flow of arms etc’ across it’s borders if she also must withdraw her troops from said border? Have our clever politicians actually taken a look on the map? Google maps, perhaps, they’re pretty accurate and show Russian troops, albeit from a year ago.
    Of course, Cameron is making the biggest noise because the UK doesn’t need Russian gas (yet), and hasn’t got a billion project ongoing with Russia. Does he really think beggaring France and Germany will lead to ‘good re-negotiations’ in the EU?
    Or has he indeed given up and is hoping for some lucrative engagement in the USA?

    • Lord Lucan

      Hear, hear! My money is on Cameron ‘hoping for some lucrative engagement in the USA’ a la Blair. Also, what of the U.S. using it’s Pentagon and CIA on the ground in the Ukraine to stem the violence? After all, it’t the U.S. that fueled this situation, and possibly the U.S. who ‘created’ the opportunity for this mass-murder.

      • JoeDM

        The USA with the EU encouraged the coup that put the extremists in power in the Ukraine.

        • Baron

          That’s a fact, JoeDM, and facts matter not for the deluded, just look at the galoot HookesLaw’s point above.

          It’s payback time for the one who loves stripping to the waist, payback for Syria, other crimes like being perceived not only by the Russian unwashed as an effective national leader (86% approval rating after Crimea)), but also by the American unwashed, even the democrats see Putin as better leader by quite a margin. That explains the vicious and unceasing barking at the KGB colonel more than anything he’s done in Eastern Ukraine.

          • rtj1211

            You forgot to mention the formation of the BRICS bank.

            On a par with the Bay of Pigs, that one……

            • Baron

              Yup, that, too, and allegedly their advances to oil producing countries to switch to gold as payment for the stuff, tehere’s alot there the messiah dislikes, more than enough to kick Vlad until he loses his nerve, does something stupid, finishes himself off.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                This is the problem though. Obama is helping the Vladinator as much or more than he’s hurting him. Poor Obama, being a narcissistic megalomaniac, decided direct negotiations were the thing, and just handed Crimea over to Putin without a bit of the normal diplomatic retardments. Putin swallowed that up like the Sudetenland and didn’t even burp afterwards, then moved onto the next thing, whatever that might be.

                The proper move was to slow roll Crimea. Rattle a few sabers maybe, as necessary. Get a chorus of harumphing EUSSR t w a t s together. Bring in the UN and their (no) good offices to “help”. You know, put the Crimea project on a 48 month fast track for resolution, ok 72 months tops. If Obama had done something like this, those 300 people might still be alive today.

                The moral is, don’t be a messiah. Don’t think your golden touch is going to resolve all. It will only harm all.

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      “And how is Russia supposed to stop ‘the flow of arms etc’ across it’s
      borders if she also must withdraw her troops from said border?”

      I don’t think anyone objects to them going back into Russia.

    • Baron

      The latest news from the US Intelligence briefing is the tragedy has nothing to do with Russia, Putin has been absolved. The spies think it’s very likely the missile came from the rebels’ held territory, the plane was very likely downed by mistake.

      Go figure.

      • Airey Belvoir

        The rebels must be very advanced to be able to build a sophisticated missile system, if you are right, But you are not – that system was supplied by the Russian Government, head of which is one V Putin.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          So you have confirmation of all your statements, then?

          The airliner was shot down by a missile, confirmed, not guessed?

          The Russians helped the shootdown, confirmed, not guessed? (and please notice that the US Intelligence briefing disagrees with your opinion on that)

          The as yet unconfirmed missile shootdown was executed with a Russian missile, confirmed, not guessed?

          Let us know when you can provide data and facts to support your statements. As mentioned, the US Intelligence briefing has already undercut some of what you’re claiming here.

          • The Masked Marvel

            One nagging issue, though, is that it seems some of these “rebels” are in fact Russian military, either freelancing or….

            • the viceroy’s gin

              I wouldn’t call it “nagging”. The Russians will have operatives in East Ukraine. The East Ukrainians will also hire Russian ex-military. This would all be considered normal and natural, much like the US and others do around the world, but even more so because this is hard on the Russians’ border.

              • The Masked Marvel

                Sure, although there have been reports of active military amongst the “rebels”. Of course, it’s probably impossible for us to tell now thanks to our intrepid media deciding on their story and sticking to it. Either way, this seems to have been a tragic accident, but the scrambling to mess with the crash evidence sure makes it look a like a cover-up, even if they’re only trying to cover up for a horrible mistake and not something done deliberately.

                • Roger Hudson

                  All young men in the area have done military service, men in their 60s could pick up a Kalashnikov and use it just like before. Even i’ve stripped and fired an AK (47/74).
                  The reason the Bosnian civil war was so nasty was because all the men were trained.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  Certainly. However, I am talking about currently active Russian military officers.

              • Roger Hudson

                Many east Ukrainians are ex-soviet military, all USSR together, as the BUK dates from the ’80s many east Ukrainians could have been trained on it , also in Ukrainian conscription years ago.

            • rtj1211

              There have been no US mercenaries in Ukraine, have there?? Nor in Iraq, nor in Pakistan??

              Never leave US shores without wearing a US military uniform, do they??

              • The Masked Marvel

                Remove the tinfoil hat, please.

                • Roger Hudson

                  And wrap the tinfoil around your bank and Oyster card, keep safe.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But Baron, everybody knows this The Americans ought to sympathise. They made the same mistake with an airliner full of Iranian pilgrims, though everybody is far too polite to remind them I also note that the American sanctions in no way harm the United States. Obama go screw yourself I say

      • Makroon

        But (trustworthy) “Kiev” claims to have evidence that the missile was fired from Russia ! They evidently have better “intelligence” that the Americans.
        Our problem is that the UK has a surplus of James Bond wannabees and a hugely overblown “security industry”, that is very nostalgic for the good old cold war days. And Cameron, like Blair, believes them.

        • Roger Hudson

          So let’s see all the Kiev air traffic data, from the moments before MH17 entered their airspace.

  • Emulous

    There are those who feel that the EU triggered this whole sorry mess.
    How on earth do you expect Europe to solve it.
    Europe is again at the mercy of the National interests of the French (arms trade) and Germany (gas).

    • HookesLaw

      Of course the EU did not trigger this mess but nutjobs like you will carry on believing what byou want and keep sucking up to Putin.

      • rtj1211

        You believe that sucking up to the Americans has brought us anything but them looting our economy?? Football clubs? Chocolate factories?? Trying to get our pharmaceuticals companies?? Got their eyes on Rolls Royce??

        Sucking up to America has brought us very little, other than spending billions on Trident, billions on pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a total defenestration of our Parliamentary system of Government.

        You’ll be telling me next that the NSA hasn’t been bugging 100% of UK citizens in their homes next……..

        • Roger Hudson

          Didn’t the Swiss close the Chocolate factories?
          We were invaded by yankee soldiers and culture (?) in 1943, i’m waiting for a backlash.

    • pointlesswasteoftime

      And of course, we have moved independently and unilaterally to restrict City financial operations involving the Russian government and its suppliers and cronies. We have , haven’t we… Oh, I see…. National interests.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Europe? What’s Europe?

  • Colonel Mustard

    All this BS about how with Europe we have a bigger voice, more influence, solidarity etc., and they can’t even agree on sanctions.

    • dado_trunking

      A case well made for United States to step forward.

      • The Masked Marvel

        Obama told the Russians he’d have more “flexibility” on military stuff after his re-election, remember?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          And he did, and he exercised it, as the chronicles show. He handed them over Crimea, by royal decree: “My signet ring and hot wax toot sweety!”

          • rtj1211

            He has exercised it in drone strikes in Pakistan. It’s just that Pakistanis aren’t real people, so the media don’t report on it every week. But it’s going on every week.

            He’s exercised it in pumping $5bn through the CIA into Poroshenko’s uprising in Ukraine and its subsequent bombing campaign. Very, very aggressive stuff. Rather like Russia installing a commie in Mexico and bombing the areas in North Mexico where all the US Corporations have their low cost manufacturing centres………

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You don’t know much about international trade, if you’re calling Mexico “low cost manufacturing”. They lost out to China long ago, which is now losing out to others. And historically, the Mexican government has been authoritarian and family run, and is now moving into a straight oligarchic construct, in many ways. So it’s pretty much like Russia already, sans Putin.

  • James S

    Have no fear, the French will call for tougher sanctions as soon as the two commando ships they have sold the Russians clear French territorial waters…

    • Andy

      You cynic, how can you say such a wicked and true thing.

    • rtj1211

      There’s quite a few British arms too, based on what the Independent was saying this morning. It always amazes me that a country which is almost entirely landlocked hasn’t been at the forefront of unilateral disarmament. Especially as their German neighbours were so friendly in the 1940s…….

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