A strong, clear signal for Russia

Ukraine crisis A strong, clear signal for Russia

The German government is calling for a "substantial package of EU measures" against Russia, and does not exclude the possibility of imposing a comprehensive arms embargo. Deputy government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz stressed the need to finalise the relevant deliberations in Brussels tomorrow.

Flags of EU member states

On 22 July in Brussels the EU Foreign Affairs Council discussed additional measures against Russia

Photo: picture-alliance / dpa

"The German government regrets that international experts still have no free, unhindered and safe access to the crash site of flight MH17. The bodies of victims must still be recovered, their possessions secured, and the causes of the disaster conclusively investigated," explained deputy government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz in Berlin.

Situation demands additional measures

Germany fully supports the relevant efforts of the Netherlands and Australia in particular, said the spokesperson at the government press conference on 28 July. Since the downing of the passenger jet, we have "a completely new situation", she said, which makes further-reaching measures essential.

At the government press conference on 28 July, the deputy government spokesperson also pointed out that the Kremlin still appears to have "little interest in an investigation" and that it has failed to exert its influence on the separatists. Equally, reports of the flow of Russian weapons across the separatist-controlled sections of the border into eastern Ukraine continue. "Here too it is up to Moscow to end the flow of weapons," stressed Christiane Wirtz.

Angela Merkel willing to attend special meeting

Additional measures must thus be taken against Russia. "The European Commission has already presented proposals relating to four areas," reported Christiane Wirtz. The German government is working for a "substantial sector-specific package of measures". "Only a substantial package of this sort will allow the German government and the EU to send a strong, clear signal to Russia," explained the government spokesperson.

Proposals have been drawn up regarding restricting access to capital markets and in the fields of defence, dual use goods and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector. The German government and the EU are determined to finalise deliberations on Tuesday. "If necessary, the Chancellor will go to Brussels for a meeting of the European Council," said Christiane Wirtz.

The German government expressly supports the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. They stipulate that a package of "further significant restrictive measures" will be imposed should Russia fail to meet the calls for cooperation on all points specified immediately and in full. This applies to both overall developments in eastern Ukraine and to the specific investigation of the aircraft crash.

Sanctions already having an impact, says Frank-Walter Steinmeier

On Thursday the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) of EU member states decided on a first extension of sanctions on Russia. These came into effect the next day, when a sanctions list of 15 individuals and 18 companies and organisations was published. On Friday, comprehensive economic sanctions were agreed, for which the European Commission has now drawn up proposals.

The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) is the intermediary level of the European Council. It consists of representatives of member states who represent their country and have the rank of ambassador to the EU. Coreper is responsible for preparing the discussions of the European Council.

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier defended sanctions already in place. A look at the figures makes it quite clear, "that even before the sanctions on Russia were announced, Russia lost about 100 billion dollars. Why? Because the conditions for investment in the country are uncertain."

With a view to further action, Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed that diplomacy takes precedence. If we discount the option of military countermeasures, "what we have left are political and diplomatic instruments, and we should not discredit these". They are "valuable assets and we can work with them," the minister underscored.

Ceasefire remains the top objective

The central objective with respect to Ukraine remains, said deputy government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz, to agree on a ceasefire respected by both sides. "To this end, the Contact Group, which consists of representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, is attempting to bring about a meeting with the separatists," she reported. Several meetings have already taken place in the form of video conferences, reported the spokesperson.

"In the final analysis, the peace plan of President Petro Poroshenko must be implemented so that Ukraine, can make its own decisions enjoying full sovereignty, as a stable and peaceful democracy," affirmed the spokesperson.

EU sanctions on Russia
On 17 March the European Council put a total of 21 individuals on a black list, or sanctions list.
A decision of principle taken at the European Council meeting on 16 July gave foreign ministers a framework for more specific decisions.
On 22 July the EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss stepping up sanctions on Russia. Coreper was mandated with elaborating these.
On 24 July, Coreper decided to extend the existing black list to include high-ranking intelligence service and security staff. The next day a list of 15 individuals and 18 companies and organisations was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, thus bringing the measures into effect immediately.
On 25 July the representatives of the 28 EU governments in Coreper also agreed on additional economic sanctions. They charged the Commission to present the wording of the regulations for the measure by 28 July.