11 Apr 2017

The EU Foreign Ministers Stopped Proposed Sanctions to Russia

Germany and Italy stopped Boris Johnson’s initiative for additional sanctions towards Russia and Syria during the G7 meeting in Lucca, Italy on Tuesday. The Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, expressed his satisfaction with the decision, admitting that it covered the initial position of his country. According to Alfano, Putin “must not be pushed into a corner” and a dialog should be seek out. He also pointed out that sanctions can be implemented later, but only after “hard and irrefutable evidence” confirming that there was a chemical attack. Additionally, Alfano said that, as from this morning, the G7 have to expand consultations with other countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar in order for a thorough investigation to be made.

Boris Johnson’s proposal of sanctions was submitted yesterday on the first day of the G7 meeting. He accused Moscow of supporting a “toxic regime” and suggests targeting key Russian and Syrian military figures. His proposal mirrored the document of sanctions, which the international community applied on Russia after the controversial annexation of Crimea 3 years ago. According to the foreign secretary, the time for new sanctions had come because “It is the Americans who have changed the game by using those cruise missiles which never happened in the last five years, so the game has now been changed and I think it’s important that that message should be heard from the Americans to the Russians.”

However, the rest of the G7 weren’t so passionate about the idea, and were more cautious, stating that a more thorough “on the ground” investigation needed to be made. The foreign ministers agreed that Bashar al-Assad should not remain leader of Syria, but couldn’t come up with a proposal on when that is likely to happen.

The outcome of the meeting will probably be least pleasant for US Secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who is travelling to Moscow later on today to meet with Russian officials. Without the list of potential sanctions his task to negotiate will be harder. Still, he thanked his colleagues “for their support for out timely and proportionate response,” and agreed with them on the statement that the Assad regime is “coming to an end,” but wasn’t specific on whether military action was needed in order to put an end to the conflict.

Prior to Tillerson’s arrival in Moscow, Russian officials said that they expected a meeting that will decrease the tension rather than elevating it. While in Russia, Tillerson will meet with his colleague, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.