EU envoys back keeping sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

EU envoys back keeping sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomats vowed Monday to uphold sanctions against Russia for destabilizing conflict-torn Ukraine, despite confusion over how U.S. President Donald Trump plans to manage his relations with Moscow.

Determined to wait no longer for a clear message from Washington, EU foreign ministers said their economic sanctions must remain in place until Russian President Vladimir Putin respects his promise to work for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and ensure that heavy weapons are withdrawn from border areas.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini underlined that the EU will never recognize Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, and insisted all sides must respect the Minsk peace agreement aimed at ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

“I cannot say where the U.S. administration stands on this, but I can say where the Europeans stand on this,” Mogherini said.

Fighting has escalated over the past week in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 36 people, including civilians, and wounding dozens. More than 9,800 people have died since the war began in 2014.

The EU imposed a series of rolling economic sanctions against Russia in July 2014. They include economic and diplomatic measures, like the cancellation of top meetings, and travel bans and asset freezes on people linked to the annexation of Crimea or accused of interfering with Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Some of those measures were renewed in December until July 31.

“The U.K. will be insisting that there is no case for the relaxation of the sanctions, every case for keeping up the pressure on Russia,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linus Antanas Linkevicius described the developments in eastern Ukraine as “highly unpredictable.”

“It could erupt at any time,” he said. “The sanctions must be preserved, to say the least. We see no reasons why we should lift our review. We see no improvement.”

EU member countries were rattled by Trump’s generally benevolent view of Putin during the election. Trump has repeatedly praised Putin and signalled that U.S.-Russia relations could be in for a makeover under his leadership, even after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said he was reassured by declarations from the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, suggesting that sanctions over Crimea will remain in place.

“If the Americans change direction – I don’t think they will – EU will have to play a stronger role,” Samuelsen said.

The past has shown, he warned, that “every time there is a vacuum, someone will step in and fill the void.”

Lorne Cook, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Central Green project gets the green light

Kelowna city council approved a permit on the building which includes a large urban park

Kelowna artist creates fundraiser for a friend

Artist Laurie Koss was inspired by her friend’s cancer battle to help her keep fighting

Kelowna driver’s actions endangered police and public

Man fled in truck, then abandoned vehicle, after cops flagged him down

Update: One injured in Lake Country bus crash

A Central Okanagan School District bus was in an accident Monday morning

Robbery suspect charged

A 32-year-old man faces three charges in connection with robbery attempt at Vernon convenience store

Dragoons showcase “unique” recruiting tool

If you see an armoured vehicle rumbling along Hwy 97 in Vernon, the BC Dragoons say don’t worry..

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Penticton bookkeeper may face jail time for embezzlement

Sentencing stances ranged from three years of probation to six months in jail for $60k embezzlement

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Vancouver Island marijuana producer bought by Aphria in $230M deal

Aphria’s annual production forecast increases to 230,000 kgs

Penticton Lakers lose to Kelowna Owls in basketball provincial qualifier

Junior girls basketball provincial qualifier held in Penticton

Lawyer says RCMP cleared in car wash shooting

Independent report into shooting of Kayman Winter not yet released to the public.

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Most Read