Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 27.01.2019
The “Normandy format” has failed to bring peace to war-torn Europe for four years. The Russian Federation is still invading and partially occupying the largest country that lies wholly within Europe, Ukraine. France and Germany are useless as guarantors of the Minsk Agreement. Moscow breaks every provision of the 11 February 2015 accord – violating the various ceasefires made under it thousands of times – with no ill consequences whatsoever imposed by Paris and Berlin. The approach of Germany and France, which is all “deep concern” and no action, doesn’t work with the Russians. The Russian Federation will never stop waging total war against Ukraine by expressions of deep concern alone.
Many EU countries have had enough. There is growing unease with French and German appeasement of Russian aggression. Germany in particular has lost enormous diplomatic capital with its EU partners by its perverse backing of Nord Stream 2. It is baffling to most Europeans why Germany supports a Russian scheme whose only purpose is to bypass Ukraine as a gas transit country and to further Putin’s War against the Ukrainian people.
Unwilling to continue along the path of failure, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Slovakia are leading a push to have an “Azov package” of sanctions considered and adopted at an upcoming EU foreign ministers in February. This is according to a report by Reuters on January 24.
Germany and France are as incompetent at negotiating the release of 24 Ukrainian POWs from Moscow as they are at negotiating peace in Russian-invaded Crimea and Russian-invaded Donbas.
The bloc of front line or near-front line EU countries to Putin at war are in favour of imposing new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities responsible for the act of war against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 in the Black Sea.
On January 15, along with some of his peers, Sven Mikser, Estonia’s foreign affairs minister, visited the war zone in eastern Ukraine – one of two regions where the Russian Federation is invading Ukraine. After a January 21 meeting with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Sven Mikser said: “The EU supports Ukraine, and we believe that we should confirm support with concrete steps. One of such steps could be the introduction of an additional sanctions regime, the so-called 'Azov package of sanctions' against Russia in response to what has been happening in the Sea of Azov.”
Ukraine has the names of all the Russian officials involved in the purposeful and unprovoked attack on 25 November 2018. Sanctioning these individuals is the least that the EU should do. If the EU foreign ministers have an interest in bringing peace to war-torn Europe, they will go further and introduce broad sectoral sanctions on the aggressor, the Russian Federation, amounting to an embargo.