The EU has no confidence in Russian compliance with the Minsk 2 peace deal. This is despite the fact that Russian energy exports to Europe are funding the Kremlin's war effort. But the sanctions will not be lifted until Russia signs a peace deal with Ukraine. In the meantime, Europe's economy continues to crumble. The EU must do more to enforce the peace deal with Ukraine.
Sanctions against Russia will not be lifted until Russia signs peace deal with Ukraine
EU member states are split on how to implement sanctions against Russia. Poland and Bulgaria, which heavily depend on Russian gas supplies, are divided over how tough the sanctions should be. Last week, Russia suspended gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after they refused to pay in roubles. The Turkish government is worried about the impact on Russian tourists. However, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is using double standards, blaming the Russian government for the situation.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has urged Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. But she has emphasized that any progress made must be accompanied by accountability for conflict-actors. Moreover, she urged the Security Council to show leadership in the matter. The United States and the EU should not allow Russia to take advantage of the current situation. Moreover, sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia signs peace deal with Ukraine.
President Biden have been in touch with their counterparts to discuss the situation in the country. They spoke before midnight and will meet again early on Thursday to discuss the implications of the sanctions on Russia.
EU has no confidence in Russian compliance
This comes as Russia has refused to fully implement the Minsk agreements, which were drafted during and after the negotiations. Moreover, Ukraine has publicly stated that it does not plan to implement the agreement. In this light, the EU is in no position to provide security guarantees to Russia. However, the EU should keep its eyes open for other signs that Russia is not complying with the Minsk 2 agreement.
Moscow is working hard to reshape the narrative among European politicians and populations. Among other things, the conflict in Donbas is blamed on Kyiv. The EU should not lift sanctions on Russia without seeing significant progress on Minsk II security provisions. Such a move would undermine Western credibility and encourage increased Russian violations of European airspace, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, and political violence in fragile states.
The Minsk document is not easy to understand. It was rushed and contains contradictory provisions and sets up a complicated sequence of events. In addition, Russia did not mention itself in the agreement, allowing Moscow to evade responsibility for its implementation and keep up the fiction of being a neutral arbiter. Even worse, it made the process of regaining control of the disputed regions more complicated.
There are many reasons for doubting whether the Minsk agreement will succeed. While the Minsk agreement offers a vehicle for direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, it also presents the EU with a missed opportunity to play peacemaker on the world stage. Furthermore, the deal may provide Moscow with central security guarantees, a demand that the US and EU have so far rejected. This situation is particularly concerning given that both parties have argued that the Minsk agreement is a false compromise.
Russian energy exports to Europe funding Kremlin's war effort
According to estimates, Russian energy exports to the EU account for nearly one fifth of the country's national budget, with more than half of this coming from mineral commodities like hydrocarbons. These exports are important to the economy, and the value of Russian mineral imports to the European Union exceeds the sums spent by the Kremlin on its military. That's a large amount of money to waste on the war effort.
In addition to the war in Syria, Russian energy exports to the EU also fund the Kremlin's war effort. Gas represents about one-third of the total natural gas consumption in Europe, and if these supplies were to cease, the EU would face a severe economic fallout, since European countries already suffer from high inflation. In addition, energy makes up a considerable proportion of European imports from Russia - more than two-thirds of all crude oil is imported from the country.
The Kremlin's goal is to divide and rule Europe. By using energy to create divisions between European countries, Russia is trying to set them against each other. Meanwhile, Europe is desperately short of energy. As a result, the war in Ukraine has led to atrocities on European soil, millions of refugees, and rising prices and shortages of essential commodities.
But some energy companies are able to remain technically compliant with sanctions by making payments to Gazprom in euros. In this way, they can pay Gazprom in euros and Gazprombank will convert these payments into roubles in another account. According to Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at the University of Essex, the Western-led sanctions have severely crippled the Russian economy, causing the Kremlin to use exports to finance its war effort.
Russia's economy crumbling
While a potential ceasefire to end Russian aggression is certainly worth the concessions Kyiv has already made, EU sanctions will not be lifted until Russia signs a peace deal with Ukraine. The potential armistice, however, is just a halt in Putin's war to annihilate Ukraine. The EU should not give in to the Europeans' illusions that this peace deal will be a lasting peace.
In addition to this, the EU should ensure that Russia does not continue to breach EU sanctions on Ukraine by allowing it to maintain undefined numbers of troops in Donbass and Luhansk. This would also be a mistake because Russia has previously kept de facto protectorates in other former Soviet republics like South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The sanctions against Russia could be costly.
The EU must make clear to Putin that its sanctions will remain in place until Russia signs a peace deal with Ukraine. If it does, it is crucial that Kyiv does not align itself with the West. It is possible that Putin will offer to de-nuclearize Ukraine and leave it without modern weapons. Likewise, Putin will demand that the Ukrainian government recognize Crimea as part of Russia and Donetsk and Luhansk as "independent states" if they agree to sign the peace deal with the West.
European Union (EU) and US sanctions are putting a heavy economic burden on Russia. These sanctions aim to hobble Russia's economy and cut off military funding. Meanwhile, they've sent the ruble to a record low and sparked a massive inflation. The EU has been quick to blame the Russian military for this situation. Nevertheless, they're not the only ones who are suffering.
Putin's demoralization of Ukraine's population
The EU has not yet signed a ceasefire agreement with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, but secret talks between Moscow and Kyiv have continued. "Neutrality" has resurfaced as one of Vladimir Putin's main conditions for ending the war. This was the pretext for his invasion of the Ukrainian-occupied peninsula, and President Zelensky has conditionally agreed. If Ukraine agrees to the Kremlin's terms, "Finlandization" of Ukraine will be talked about. The West would likely agree to this solution, and EU sanctions would not be lifted until Russia signs a peace deal with Ukraine.
It's easy to say that dropping sanctions on Ukraine is a bad idea. But if Russia wants to keep the Ukraine and the EU's sanctions will be lifted until it signs a peace deal with Ukraine, then they won't. Ukraine needs an international security guarantee. Otherwise, the peace deal would be interpreted by Russia as an authorization to continue to meddle in Ukrainian politics and reorient Ukraine's economy toward Russia. It should be noted that Russia's invasion was an act of aggression against its neighbors. The Russian invasion was a wanton assault on Ukrainian cities, and likely a first step in a long-term strategy to demoralize their neighbor. The ultimate goal of Russian annexation of Ukraine is to subjugate Ukraine to Russian influence.
In January 2020, a nationwide survey of Ukraine's population found that 51 percent of its citizens viewed joining NATO as a positive step in ensuring their security. The UN Security Council, the French President and the German Chancellor have all reaffirmed their country's respect for Ukraine and its sovereignty. The European Union has also reiterated that it will not lift sanctions until Russia signs a peace deal with Ukraine.