Tag Archives: Moscow

EU-Russia: more individual sanctions

Brussels 03.06.2021 Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: the EU targets additional 65 individuals and 18 entities (Image: illustration)
The Council decided today to impose restrictive measures on an additional 65 individuals and 18 entities in response to Russia’s ongoing unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine and other actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. This decision is an integral element of the comprehensive sixth package of sanctions adopted by the Council earlier today.

“There can be no impunity for war crimes. We are adding today to our sanctions lists those who are responsible for enabling this unjustified war and the war crimes committed in Bucha and Mariupol, adding more people from the military and economic elites and those with close ties with President Putin supporting his illegitimate aggression against the Ukrainian people” Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said.

“The 65 listed individuals include the military staff that led the actions of those units of the Russian army that killed, raped, and tortured civilians in Ukraine in Bucha, including Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, who was nicknamed the ’Butcher of Bucha’.. The list also includes those responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol, including Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Mariupol’, and those who participated in the creation of the so-called Committee of Salvation for Peace and Order in March 2022 – an organ for collaboration with the Russian occupation in Kherson Oblast. Lastly, the EU is imposing sanctions on politicians, propagandists, leading businesspersons and family members of already sanctioned individuals. The former gymnast and State Duma member Alina Kabaeva is also included in the list as a close associate of President Vladimir Putin” the EU top diplomat added.

The 18 sanctioned entities include a variety of companies supporting, directly or indirectly, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation, including Russia’s largest securities depository, the National Settlement Depository.

Altogether, EU restrictive measures now apply to a total of 1,158 individuals and 98 entities. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze, and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

The EU resolutely condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It urges Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The atrocities being committed by Russian forces and the suffering and destruction being inflicted are unspeakable. The EU calls on Russia to allow immediate humanitarian access and the safe passage of all civilians concerned. It also calls on Russia to immediately allow the safe return of Ukrainian individuals forcibly removed to Russia.

The European Union is unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the listed individuals and entities, have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Moscow expells European diplomats

Brussels 18.05.2022 Moscow said on Wednesday, May 18, it was expelling a total of 85 embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in response to similar moves by those countries, highlighting the damage to relations with leading EU members since it launched its war on Ukraine. (Image above: Moscow, City)

The Foreign Ministry said it was ordering out 34 diplomatic staff from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy.

The three countries are among European nations that have collectively thrown out more than 300 Russians since the February 24 invasion. In many cases, they accused Russian diplomats of spying, which Moscow has denied.

Russia’s response has included sending home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans last month. It has also announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Wednesday’s announcement by Moscow a “hostile act” and said diplomatic channels must not be interrupted.

France said it deplored the Russian move as an unjustified response to what it said was its own decision in April to expel “several dozen Russian agents acting on our territory under diplomatic status and working against our security interests”.

Lavrov denounces NATO arrogance

Brussels 16.03.2022 Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told RBC News that “neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees.”

The ‘arrogant’ US-led West ignored Moscow’s proposed security guarantees following many years of admonitions and exhortations from the Russian side regarding NATO’s steady eastward expansion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“Once the Warsaw Pact dissolved, and even after the Soviet Union became extinct, NATO, at its own discretion and without consultations whatsoever with anyone, who had been a part of the balance of power on the European continent, set out on moving eastward and kept moving the line of the defence, pushing it further and further in the direction to the east,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russia’s RBC TV channel.

“When this line was pushed right up [to Russian borders] and all our admonitions over the past 20 years were not taken seriously, we drafted our own initiatives on European security and they, to our deep disappointment, have been shrugged off by our arrogant Western partners,” Lavrov explained.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on March 12 that the previously proposed security guarantees to the United States and NATO were no longer valid because the situation has dramatically changed.

Russia sanctions Biden and Blinken

Brussels 15.03.2022 Moscow has imposed personal sanctions on President Joe Biden and representatives of the U.S. leadership and persons associated with them on Tuesday, March 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement.

“In response to a series of unprecedented sanctions prohibiting, among other things, entry into the United States for senior officials of the Russian Federation…From March 15, President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense L. Austin and 10 others are included in the Russian ‘stop list’ and are to be sanctioned in retaliation and are barred from entering Russia,” the Russian diplomacy statement reads.

The Foreign ministry said it was maintaining official relations with Washington and if necessary would make possible that high-level contacts with the people on the list could take place.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, many Western countries announced large-scale sanctions against Russia, primarily against the banking sector and the supply of high-tech products. In addition, many brands have announced the termination of work in the country.

Ukraine crisis: Macron diplomatic efforts

Brussels 07.02.2022 Macron attempts to mediate over Ukraine visiting Moscow today.
The U.S. standoff with Russia over Ukraine is at a critical point. At present Washington has engaged NATO to and moved forces east, while Moscow has been sending additional military on the Ukraine border. However beneath those tensions, diplomatic avenues are being intensely explored and the outlines of potential solutions.

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, is meeting with Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, today in Moscow. At the same time, President Biden will be meeting with Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, in Washington. In line with the position of France as chair of the EU rotating presidency, Macron has placed himself at the center of the diplomacy in Europe, giving him an opportunity to perform more than usual leadership role.

For Macron, the risks are as great as the potential payoff, because he is facing falling popularity among his electorate.

Although the solutions to the crisis seem fiendishly elusive for now, in spite of the fact that Russian diplomacy denies the intentions of military conflict, and the situation has appeared less directly threatening toward Ukraine over the past week.

With its huge concentration of troops at the Ukrainian border, Russia is still representing a potential of armed conflict, and Kremlin grievances against NATO expansion continue to play a major role in Ukraine border crisis.

Russia closes DW office in Moscow

Brussels 06.02.2022 Anna van Densky Moscow took retaliatory measures towards German broadcaster Deutsche Welle following Berlin’s decision to ban RT DE in Germany to demonstrate that further steps in this direction will come at a cost, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday, February 5 in an interview.

“We respond, we’ve been taught, we are doing this to demonstrate that further steps in this direction will come at a cost,” the diplomat stressed.

On February 2, the Commission on Licensing and Supervision banned the broadcasting of the RT DE TV channel in Germany since there was no required license under the media law.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced earlier that Moscow was closing the Deutsche Welle’s news bureau in Russia as the first stage of retaliatory measures following the German regulator’s move to ban RT DE in Germany.

The other measures will include the withdrawal of credentials from all staff members at Deutsche Welle’s Russian bureau and the launch of a process aimed at identifying Germany’s government and public agencies involved in banning RT DE from broadcasting and putting other kinds of pressure on the Russian media outlet, who will eventually be barred from entering Russia.

“The decision by the Russian authorities to ban the German public service broadcaster Deutsche Welle from broadcasting in Russia, revoke the accreditation of its employees, suggest to consider designating it as a ”foreign agent” and close its office in Moscow, is unacceptable and lacks any justification” the spokesperson for the EU diplomacy said.

Ukraine: Russia denies troops buildup

Brussels 06.11.2021 CIA director William Burns visited Moscow to inform relevant authorities that the U.S. was monitoring closely the alleged buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. As CNN channel reported on Friday, November 5, citing its sources, the intelligence chief was supposed to determine what was provoking Russia’s actions. (Image: Moscow city).

According to CNN, during meetings in Moscow, the CIA’s director tried to warn Russia against any plans for an offensive, stressing that the U.S. is constantly monitoring all the movements of Russian troops.

During the official two-day visit this week, the U.S. top executive also expressed concern “that Russia is close to using its gas exports as leverage, with Ukraine and other European nations forecast to suffer energy crises heading into winter.” After meetings in Moscow, where the U.S. official held talks with Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin, “Burns called [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky on Wednesday to convey the administration’s concerns over Russia’s behavior and reassure him that the U.S. is closely tracking the Russian activity, according to a person with direct knowledge of the call,” CNN reported.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented at articles published in U.S. media outlets that claim Russia was allegedly amassing troops at the Ukrainian border, branding them to be part of a fake news campaign. The diplomat said that at least three U.S. media outlets – Politico, the Washington Post and Foreign Policy published “as if on cue in a real panic attack” materials that Russia was allegedly moving its troops to the Ukrainian border. “This wasn’t one fake news item, this is an entire fresh fake news campaign in American media outlets,” the diplomat said at a briefing on Wednesday, November 3.

MEPs strategy towards Russia

Strasbourg 16.09.2021 Parliament says the EU must push back against aggressive policies while laying the groundwork for cooperation with a future democratic Russia.

Assessing the state of EU-Russia relations, the European Parliament makes clear that it distinguishes between the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The latter is, Parliament says, a “stagnating authoritarian kleptocracy led by a president-for-life surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.

MEPs stress, however, that a democratic future for Russia is possible and that the Council must adopt an EU strategy for this scenario, encompassing incentives and conditions to strengthen domestic democratic tendencies.

The text was approved by 494 votes in favour, 103 against with 72 abstentions.

“Russia can be a democracy and defending ‘Democracy First’ in EU relations with Russia is our first task. The EU and its institutions have to work on the assumption that change is possible in Russia. It also needs more courage in taking a strong stance vis-a-vis the Kremlin regime when it comes to defending human rights; this is what strategic engagement with the Russian people is all about. It is about ending domestic repression, returning the choice to the people, and freeing all political prisoners”, said rapporteur Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania) after the vote.

“In addition, if this week’s parliamentary elections in Russia are recognised as fraudulent, the EU should not recognise the Russian Duma and should ask for the country to be suspended from international parliamentary assemblies, including the one of the Council of Europe. The Kremlin’s continuous repression of all opposition candidates, free media and NGOs undermines the legitimacy and fairness of these elections. The Russian people must have the right to choose and their choices must be honoured, as in any other democratic country”, he added.

Parliament proposes the EU establishing an alliance with the U.S. and other like-minded partners to counterbalance the efforts of Russia and China to weaken democracy worldwide and destabilise the European political order. It should foresee sanctions, policies to counter illicit financial flows, and support for human rights activists.

Support to Russia’s’ neighbouring countries

On Russia’s aggression and influence over the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, the EU must continue to support so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, and to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms in the region. These efforts should also serve to encourage Russian support for democratic reforms.

Reduce the EU’s energy dependency on Russia, fighting “dirty money” at home

The text further states that the EU needs to cut its dependency on Russian gas, oil and other raw materials, at least while President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the boosting of new resources will play a crucial geopolitical role in achieving this.

MEPs want the EU to build its capacity to expose and stop the flows of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets that regime-linked autocrats and oligarchs have hidden in EU member states.

Worries ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections in Russia

Members conclude by demanding the EU be prepared to withhold recognition of the Russian parliament if the 2021 parliamentary elections in September are conducted in violation of democratic principles and international law.

EU Condemns Russian actions

Brussels 25.05.2021 The European Council held a strategic debate on Russia.
– It condemns the illegal, provocative and disruptive Russian activities against the EU, its Member States and beyond. It reaffirms the EU’s unity and solidarity in the face of such acts as well as its support to Eastern partners. (Image above: Crimea bridge, Azov sea).

– The European Council expresses its solidarity with the Czech Republic and supports its response.
– The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the five principles governing EU policy vis-à-vis Russia. – It invites the High Representative and the Commission to present a report with policy options on EU-Russia relations, in line with these principles, with a view to its meeting in June 2021.
– The EU will continue coordination with like-minded partners.

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine:

The EU imposes different types of restrictive measures:

Diplomatic measures
individual restrictive measures (asset freeze and travel restrictions)
restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol
economic sanctions
restrictions on economic cooperation

Diplomatic measures
In 2014, the EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU member states decided not to hold regular bilateral summits. Bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the new agreement between the EU and Russia were suspended.

Instead of the G8 summit in Sochi, a G7 meeting was held in Brussels on 4-5 June 2014. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.

EU countries also supported the suspension of negotiations over Russia’s joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Individual restrictive measures
Asset freeze and travel restrictions
177 people and 48 entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban because their actions undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The measures were introduced in March 2014. They were last extended until 15 September 20

EU deplores Czech diplomats expel

Brussels 19.04.2021 “The European Union stands in full support and solidarity with the Czech Republic and deplores Russia’s response to expel 20 Czech diplomats. Russia’s decision follows the announcement by the Czech Republic on 17 April to expel 18 Russian embassy staff, based on reasonable suspicion about the involvement of Russian military intelligence service (GRU) agents in the 2014 explosion of an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbětice, resulting in the death of two Czech nationals. These GRU agents were also in charge of the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury in 2018” reads the statement of the EU spokesperson.

“The European Union is deeply concerned about the repeating negative pattern of dangerous malign behaviour by Russia in Europe. Russia must stop with these activities, which violates well-established international principles and norms and threaten stability in Europe”.

Prague authorities demand that Russian Embassy vacate an area of 5,000 square meters, currently occupied by the diplomatic mission. Before 1968, the mentioned area was a part of the adjacent Stromovka Park, Prague-7 district head Jan Cizinsky said on Twitter.

“The Prague city council called on the Czech government to hold negotiations in a bid to bring the Russian Embassy territory to the state that preceded the Warsaw Pact forces invasion in 1968,” he tweeted.

According to the Czech media, the area in question is about 5,000 square meters. The city authorities plan to plant trees and flowers on this area, as it was prior to August 1968, when a Soviet military camp was deployed there.

This decision was made amid a sharp escalation of relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, following the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees and accusations of Russian intelligence’s involvement in explosions at arms depots in 2014.

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