When the EU met this past weekend to discuss actions taken against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine, sanctions were a popular punishment but not completely. “Everybody is fully aware we have to act quickly” said Herman Van Rompuy, EU summit chairman, but decisions on new sanctions will definitely have to wait on the evolution of the conflict. Attempts and warnings have been made for Russia to withdraw its forces and military assets form eastern Ukraine but no significant change has occurred.
Russia denies involvement of their troops and their location across Ukrainian border but NATO stated at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are on Ukrainian soil and that Russia has amassed some 20,000 troops across Ukraine’s eastern border. This is confirmed by the capture of 10 Russian paratroopers this past week in Ukraine. This is evidence that Russia, despite its denials, is sending regular troops and military weapons to support the separatists taking land in Ukraine. Towns have been taken over and public shootings and shelling haven’t been unheard of in this takeover. “Russia’s practically in the war against Europe” seemed to be the council’s favorite phrase throughout the duration of the conference.
Russia’s and Europe’s economy is largely intertwined with the purchase of machinery, Russia being the EU’s No.3 gas and fuel supplier and the EU being Russia’s biggest commercial partner, heavy economic actions aren’t taken lightly and unanimity among EU members is essential . Many European leaders called stronger measures to be taken but a widespread fear of an economic repercussion lead the EU to give Russia another chance to retreat in order to avoid tougher actions. This is why extreme sanctions against big features of Russian economy haven’t taken place instead of the EU sanctions against Russian officials, several companies and the country’s financial and arm’s industry. Newly imposed sanctions would target the same locations as previous disciplinary measures but for now the ball is in Russia’s court. Depending on their actions the EU would proceed to apply more punitive measures.
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