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Monday, July 21, 2014

Will EU foreign ministers agree on what to do with Russia?

(l-r) The foreign ministers of Italy, Spain and France
EU foreign ministers will meet tomorrow to discuss what to do with Russia in light of last week's MH17 plane crash, where almost 300 people lost their lives. The option of moving to tougher 'Stage 3' economic sanctions will be on the table. While the UK, France and Germany have all warned Moscow that it will face further sanctions if it fails to secure the crash site and guarantee a thorough and independent investigation, all eyes are on Italy and Spain - usually among the most dovish member states when it comes to EU-Russia relations.

After a couple of cautious statements over the weekend, a spokesman for the Italian Foreign Ministry is today quoted as saying,
"If Russia doesn't cooperate with the investigation [into the crash], we are very much ready to support the sanctions."
Belated compared to other big EU countries, but this is the most strongly worded statement coming from Rome to date. One could expect Italy to take a tougher stance this time around, not least because the main objection raised by Eastern European member states to the appointment of Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini as the new EU foreign policy chief is precisely the fact that Italy is regarded as too soft on Russia.

Meanwhile, speaking to the press this morning, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo took a milder position. He refused to condemn Russia for the crash, and suggested waiting for the outcome of the investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) before considering any further steps.

On top of this, despite presenting a united front, Germany, France and the UK might not yet be on exactly the same page - not least because France continues to look unwilling to put its sale of Mistral ships to Russia on the table, and Germany's prime concern seems to be to preserve cohesion within the EU, rather than driving tougher sanctions. The big EU member states are therefore still not all on the same wavelength - although the fact that Italy might be hardening its stance is an interesting development.

Once again then, it is far from granted that EU foreign ministers will be able to agree on tougher sanctions on Russia tomorrow. However, it is looking the most likely it has been for some time.


Jesper said...

What is and what should be the norm to compare with?

Is the norm to await the outcome of an investigation before assigning blame?

Is the norm to blame the disliked before the investigation is completed?

The prejudiced stance seems to be the norm - the disliked is guilty and should be punished.

It looks like the EU-elite is both prejudiced and xenophobic. Is it yet another example of when it is good to have an external enemy to distract from domestic troubles?

Maybe sanctions are JUSTified, but we will not know if they are JUSTified until after the investigation is concluded.

Anonymous said...

Will EU foreign ministers agree on what to do with Russia?

They will agree to lots of hand wringing but in the end those in charge care little about the deaths of civilians.

Certainly France will go ahead with its sale.

R Davis said...

Will EU foreign ministers agree what to do with Russia?
"Italy is regarded too soft on Russia"
Pending the outcome of an investigation by the ICAO....we expect action to be taken, anything else is a result of a knee jerk reaction taken in ignorance.
MALAYSIA : is a nation of much instability, don't you think it is just too much of a coincidence that 2 Airlines have been targeted with in a short space of time? It is entirely possible that - Airline Flight MH370 & Airline Flight MH17 are some kind of retaliation upon Malaysia specifically. It is also possible that both Airlines were brought down by a device in the actual planes.
It is also possible that it could have something to do with the organized people smuggling industry & Malaysia's & Australia's cooperation in attempting to stop The Boat People Smuggling, which is a very lucrative global industry for trans national organized crime syndicates.

Mally said...

Before very long it may just dawn on the Netherlands whom they can rely upon in this so called "Europe" in times of adversity. One of the planks of the EU was to stop wars and conflicts arising in Europe. Firstly, can we define Europe and secondly how's it going with stopping the wars?

Rollo said...

It hardly matters whether they agree or don't. The EU has made itself irrelevant. As the Russians and Americans agreed, 'f**k the EU!.

Anonymous said...

Jesper …..what planet are you on? What exactly does Putin have to do before "useful idiots" on the Left wake up. The evidence all points towards Russian complicity in the shooting down of MH17. Putin is lying. This is war by stealth, deceit and from within. What did Lenin say…"if you push with a bayonet and feel mush, then push hard. If you meet steel then withdraw….". If Putin is not stopped and punished for such blatant aggression in an independent state such as Ukraine, then you may as well wave good-bye to the Baltic states. The EU ministers are spineless nonentities.

Jesper said...


I know that I don't know what happened. You apparently know more than the investigators. That being the case I recommend you contact them and present your evidence.

Useful idiots are found on all sides. One way of spotting them is that they believe anything and everything that their preferred side say.