EU Summit: Split due to Ukraine’s crisis

(VOVworld)- Opened on Thursday in Brussels, the EU Summit focused on ways to deal with the escalation of tension in Ukraine, the extension of sanctions against Russia and military aid to Ukraine. The summit is considered a test of unity and consensus within the EU on the crisis in Ukraine.
EU Summit: Split due to Ukraine’s crisis - ảnh 1

High on the agenda of the EU Summit in Brussels are Greece’s reform, the the future of the Eurozone, the Ukrainian crisis and sanctions against Russia. A number of measures have been tried to resolve the crisis in Ukraine but all of them have failed. The situation in Ukraine remains volatile due to repeated violations of cease fire agreements. Tough sanctions against Russia have caused splits within the EU.

Different viewpoints persist

The West’s reaction to the Ukrainian crisis has revealed differing viewpoints and rifts between EU members.

Prior to the EU Summit, at least 7 EU members- the Republic of Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Spain- threatened to veto continued sanctions against Russia. France, Italy and Spain said they didn’t want to break the fragile cease fire truce. The UK and several Baltic and north European countries shared a tougher view on extending the sanctions, which according to them will make Moscow more likely to honor the cease fire. Germany adopted a neutral stance hoping to maintain pressure on Russia while at the same time maintaining consensus within the EU.  

According to EU regulations, extending the sanctions against Russia for another 6 months requires the approval of all 28 EU members. Conflicting opinions on the issue will make it hard for the EU to work out a long term strategy.

Sanctions won’t solve the problem

After Crimea was annexed to Russia one year ago, the EU suspended trade and visa negotiations with Russia and imposed travel limitations and asset freezes on a number of Russian politicians and military officials. In January, sanctions were extended for another 6 months. These sanctions have over the past year seriously hurt the Russian economy. But the crisis in Ukraine remains unresolved. According to some in the US, it’s time to review sanctions which have proved ineffective. Some EU countries argue that sanctions against Russia have hurt both sides. Many leaders of EU countries have visited the Kremlin in recent months. In February, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades visited Russia and gave the Russian Navy permission to use ports in Cyprus. In March, when Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzie visited the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Italy a “privileged partner”. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to visit Russia next month.

Analysts predict that given the current disunity in the EU, the extension of sanctions against Russia is likely to be delayed until June.