Germany, Poland warn Russia EU sanctions could start from 17 March


The European Union will start preparing further responses to Russia's actions in Ukraine if Moscow does not show signs of backing down by the weekend, Germany's foreign minister said yesterday (11 March), a warning echoed by the Polish prime minister.

Since the fall of Ukraine's president to pro-Western unrest, Russian forces have consolidated their hold on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula ahead of a Russian-backed referendum on the region's future on Sunday. The new government in Kyiv and its Western backers have denounced the planned vote as illegal.

"If the weekend passes without a visible change in Russia's conduct then on Monday in the European (foreign affairs) council we will have to discuss a next stage of measures," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a visit to the Estonian capital Tallinn.

"We don't want confrontation but the action of the Russian side unfortunately makes it necessary for us to prepare, as I have just outlined to you," he said on a one-day swing through the three Baltic states, all EU and NATO members whose proximity to ex-ruler Russia makes them nervous about events in Ukraine.

Speaking in Warsaw, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters: "When it comes to sanctions on Russia, a decision has in fact already been made, especially on the procedure of introducing sanctions. The consequence of this will be the start of sanctions on Monday."

Poland has a special interest in Ukraine and has taken a tough line. They share a border and large parts of western Ukraine were Polish before World War Two. Polish foreign policy is driven by a fear of Russia, its former overlord, pushing west into Ukraine and then threatening Poland's own borders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been at the forefront of a strategy of "engagement" with Russian President Vladimir Putin since a tug-of-war between Russia and Europe over Ukraine deteriorated into their most tense stand-off since the Cold War.

EU leaders have so far taken largely symbolic action against Moscow in response, such as suspending talks on visa deals. Merkel says tougher sanctions like travel restrictions and asset freezes could follow if Moscow does not take up her proposal of an "international contact group".

Its aim would be to facilitate communication between Moscow and the pro-EU government in Kyiv in place since the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted after bloody protests.

Russian forces have since taken over military installations across Crimea, which is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and was Russian territory until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954.

The EU is still seeking a diplomatic solution, Steinmeier said, "but so far we haven't succeeded and time is running out".

Asked if the next stage might include sanctions on arms between firms from EU/NATO states and Russia, Steinmeier said Germany - the world's third biggest arms exporter - had little such business with Moscow, but other countries had more.

"That will also have to be included if the current Crimea or Ukraine crisis turns into a permanent conflict between Russia and the European Union, or between Russia and NATO," he said.

"If it remains an unresolved problem and Russia continues on this path, not just going ahead with the referendum but also integrating Crimea into Russian territory, then there will certainly be thoughts among NATO member states in that sense."

Addressing citizens of the three Baltic states, he said, "We understand the worries of the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ... and we understand that people are afraid of the situation.. .we will not leave you alone, your fears are our fears, your problems are our worries too."


Russia's responses to U.S. proposals to end the crisis in Ukraine do not create the environment for a diplomatic resolution, the United States said on 11 March.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday morning to discuss a series of questions that Washington put to Moscow over the weekend in an effort to find a diplomatic solution, the State Department said.

"He [Kerry] also reiterated his willingness to continue to engage with Foreign Minister Lavrov, including this week, but that the environment has to be right and the goal must be to protect the immunity and sovereignty of Ukraine and we didn't see that, obviously, in the responses that we received back," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Psaki said Russia gave its response to the questions on Monday, when the State Department held out the possibility that Kerry might travel to Russia this week but said it needed to know whether Moscow would engage in a diplomatic solution.

While the spokeswoman said Kerry was still open to going to Russia before Sunday's planned referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia - a poll the United States sees as illegitimate - her comments suggested such a trip was now unlikely.

Kerry told Lavrov "any further escalatory steps will make the window for diplomacy more difficult," Psaki said, adding that he also said "it is unacceptable that Russian forces and irregulars continue to take matters into their own hands."

  • 17 March: EU foreign ministers meeting to discuss sanctions on Russia
  • 20-21 March: EU heads of states and government meet in Brussels


Anna's picture

Arayik Sargsyan:«Russian Spring" came to the Crimea: war or peace .
Arayik Sargsyan , Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.
May 22, 1949 James Forrestal, the first (by then former) U.S. Secretary of Defense, while in a psychiatric hospital, committed suicide by jumping from the window. During the illness, according to the common story, he raved, repeating the words: "The Russians are coming".
March 16, 2014 a referendum in the Crimea on the status of an autonomous republic whose citizens express their opinion on whether the subject of the Russian Federation Crimea or remain part of Ukraine with broad powers. This will be a referendum for the citizens of Ukraine litmus test of the new government, which has already been set in terms of chess zughzwang , where any statement in Kiev only worsen his situation . It is clear that the new government of the victorious revolution fear the collapse of the country to pieces, some of which will go immediately under the protectorate of the EU , Russia and others . But why Ukraine should break up into its constituent parts , their differing ideological code , why can not live in peace and harmony ? First of all , in its different mentality influenced by Western countries and Russia , as well as with respect to the property. The main mistake of the new authorities of Kiev was the fact that they did not even try to change the status quo, in which all Ukraine is divided into zones of influence of oligarchs. Removing from the political arena Yanukovych , who was the mouthpiece and the Executive power of the oligarchs , the victorious revolution did not even try to change the current situation in the economy when the country led to the collapse of not only Yanukovych and his thieving nukes’ , but also representatives of greedy capitalism. Leaving things as they are , the leaders betrayed Maidan " heavenly hundred" betrayed the Ukrainian people and trampled on the country's future . Therefore, separation of the Crimea from Ukraine and its joining to Russia is welcome.
That the state 's foreign policy is often openly cynical and has long been known to everyone. However, it would be good to our President Barack Obama recalled saying someone famous Italian philosopher and politician Niccolo Machiavelli , " one escaped trouble yourself in another , but in the fact wisdom to weighing all possible trouble , the lesser evil for the good of honor ."
In recent days, even in the leading Western media there are more articles and interviews where Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry transparent reminded that their angry tirades against Putin and the upcoming referendum in the Crimea is not just saturated with cynicism and those superlatives.
Even such pillars of the American press, as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post,, and many others are beginning to speak not only of frequent violations of international law by the United States, but also numerous facts straight income Washington in the internal affairs of other countries, including in the process of forming a new government in Ukraine . Moreover, many media are seriously concerned about the participation of representatives of governments openly “neonatsist” circles.
Not to mention the famous telephone conversation deputy. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine , and using profanity in which they discussed whom to appoint in Kiev on what position , press outraged by the behavior of the same Nuland , Senator McCain and other top American and European politicians openly flirt with extremists and neo-Nazis on the Maidan .
However, now the main topic discussed - is the issue of sanctions and here Obama, Merkel and other Western leaders should remember the above words of Machiavelli , and weigh the consequences of these sanctions. Will they be good or evil, they will create a problem only for Russia, but perhaps for the West, and they will not strike most in Ukraine ?
If Obama Ukrainians are not simply pawns in a geopolitical game, then he should think about it and Statecraft , befitting the president of a great power . He should stop making irresponsible statements and loud and spend time on pointless PR , like meeting with the "kamikaze" Yatsenyuk.
Instead, Obama should immediately convene a conference to invite Putin major European and Chinese leaders for constructive discussion almost forgotten ideas of George Bush Sr. about creating arcs security and economic cooperation from Vancouver to Vladivostok , which will now be promoted to Beijing. It is clear that there is currently no serious geopolitical configuration can not be sustained without the participation of China.
All this may sound rather naive , but while in Washington and Brussels, we did not hear any more constructive ideas , in addition to the threat of sanctions . Moreover, inflame themselves with such threats , you can reach a dangerous level , and even then it will be not only a return to the Cold War that has already occurred, but a repetition of the situation with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 , and even , God forbid , to third World War.
Understand whether it is in Washington? I think yes, but , apparently , there is completely different agenda . By and large, Obama holds the same short-sighted policy in relation to Russia , and that George W. Bush . After the tragic events of September 11, Putin immediately called Bush and America offered virtually unlimited support of his country. This support would later play an important role in the defeat of the Taliban and thereby saved many lives of American military during the war in Afghanistan.
While almost all U.S. politicians to praise Putin and greeted him almost as a national hero. To consolidate the relations between the two countries , Putin proposed Bush to create a strategic alliance between Russia and the United States for further mutually beneficial military and economic cooperation , but this proposal was summarily rejected. Such an alliance would be an invaluable contribution not only in the fight against global jihad , but also for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction , energy security and cooperation in many other areas , from agriculture to space exploration. Instead, Washington launched a crusade color revolutions on the former Soviet republics, and continued efforts to further NATO expansion, including Georgia and Ukraine . According to one of the most prominent American diplomat George Kennan , this policy was the greatest mistake that will lead to a new Cold War , which, unfortunately , happened.
It is no secret that the current crisis was triggered by the efforts of Brussels , I think not without the knowledge of Washington, then six post-Soviet countries have been invited to sign an association agreement with the EU. And no one really no secret that the main aim of this project was not so much a desire to help the economic development of these countries as an attempt to isolate them from Russia . Quite naturally, if it really was a question of helping them , it should be included in this list , and that Russia would benefit all parties and, above all , Ukraine , given its close family , economic, religious and cultural ties with Russia .
It is clear that the idea expressed here - is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and it can implement only with the arrival of man in the White House with the strategic vision of Ronald Reagan , surrounded by a group of wise counselors who understand that in America's interest to try to make Russia as an ally . Unlikely this can be achieved under the present administration, so we have no choice but to wait for new elections in 2016. In the meantime, you need to do everything possible to avoid the worst-case scenario in the form of a direct confrontation between Russia and the United States .
Time is working against the government winning Maidens , who simply do not know what to do with this power . Or know ? Several questions arise : 1. Frequent consultations in Brussels Yatsenyuk evrovlastyami yielded nothing Ukraine to maintain its integrity and economic revival . Why Europe is not interested in a strong and democratic Ukraine , which is a full member of the EU ? Apparently, no 2 . Injection of nationalist rhetoric is rejection at residents of the eastern regions and the Crimea , but welcomed the western region of Ukraine , where there is no "successful" multibillion oligarchs recklessly appointed governors Kiev eastern provinces. For what it is , who initially creates a divided society with a different approach to the property ? Brussels hosts that do not need Ukraine as a whole successful state with its place in the general division of labor 3 . Deliberate incitement still cold war with Russia , Ukrainians and Russian opposition , the game Russophobian sentiments central and western parts of Ukraine , with the actual boost eastern regions to secede from " Nenko " and the opposition in Moscow and Kiev . Authority of the victorious revolution divide Ukraine hurry, drawing her into chaos ? Yes, these actions are peaceful plan for Europe "independence» of Ukraine, because someone - he must pay for the mistakes of the EU. The next will be the payer Russia.
Arayik Sargsyan, Academician, President of the Academy of Geopolitics , Honorary Consul of Macedonia to Armenia.

Barry Davies's picture

Or April or May or June oh sod it we need your gas and oil.