A clear signal to Russia

Crisis in Ukraine A clear signal to Russia

The European Union’s package of sanctions is in force, but the situation along the Russian-Ukrainian border remains tense. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has once again urged Russia to help de-escalate the situation and withdraw its additional troops from the border, said Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson Sawsan Chebli.

Speaking in Berlin, Federal Foreign Office Deputy Spokesperson Sawsan Chebli reported that the German government is observing the situation along the Ukrainian-Russian border very carefully. Over recent weeks and months large-scale military manoeuvres on the part of Russian troops have repeatedly been observed in the border region.

Tense situation at the Ukrainian-Russian border

This is why the German government has called on Russia yet again to "give a clear signal to help de-escalate the situation, to withdraw the additional troops from the border, and return them to where they are normally stationed," said Sawsan Chebli. Russia must also at last "prevent combatants and weapons crossing the border." This has been made very plain on several occasions both in the Berlin statement and at meetings of Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Federal Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has also expressed her concern and "repeatedly urged Russia to keep a dialogue going," added the Federal Defence Ministry Spokesperson Angelika Niggemeier-Groben.

Restrictive defence policy

In the wake of the EU sanctions, the German government has revoked licences for the export of a combat training centre to Russia. This was confirmed by the Federal Economics Ministry Spokesperson, Tanja Alemany, in Berlin.

The formal revocation of the license creates a clear-cut legal situation for the company affected. The German government is thus continuing its consistent restrictive arms exports policy, and even going one step further than required under the EU sanctions now in place.

In detail the EU measures entail the following:
- The EU is to impose an arms embargo on Russia.
- Access to the EU capital market is to be significantly more difficult for state-controlled Russian banks.
- High-tech goods for the oil industry may no longer be exported to Russia.
- Dual use goods may no longer be supplied to military customers in Russia.

The package of measures was based on the texts drawn up by the European Commission by 28 July.

Impacts of sanctions

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented on the impacts of sanctions on the German economy in a newspaper interview on Sunday. "It should surprise nobody that sanctions come at a price – especially those who have for months been declaring that harsh sanctions are a test of the credibility of European politics. The German government is in touch with the German private sector, I have been in contact with businesses since March, so as to keep the consequences to a calculable level at least. It should also be possible to adapt and scale back sanctions if political progress is made in efforts to resolve the conflict, he added.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is convinced that there can only be a political solution to the conflict with the support of Moscow. "That is why, in spite of all difficulties, we are keeping channels to Russia open". "Experience shows that whoever increases political pressure to convince the other side to negotiate, must himself also be willing to negotiate."

EU action to date against 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. 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.
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.
On 29 July Coreper adopted a package of measures. These have now been formally approved by the 28 EU member states.
On 1 August the sanctions came into force.