By a Staff Reporter
FOREIGN MINISTER Ioannis Kasoulides opposed the prospect of new sanctions by the EU against Russia, during the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Milan on Friday.
In a move that could signal a nod to Russia’s discontent with the EU’s unanimous decision to impose sanctions against it last July, Kasoulides told the meeting that the method of sanctions appeared not to have achieved the required results. Arguing that the solution to the Ukrainian crisis could not be a military one but a political one, he proposed that the EU’s efforts focus on mediation aimed at securing a ceasefire and bringing the two sides to the negotiating table.
According to a written statement, the issues discussed during the first part of the meeting were the current situation in the Middle East and Russia and Ukraine. With regard to the Middle East, discussion revolved around recent developments in Iraq, and particularly on the action of the Islamic State of Levant and Syria.
On Russia, European Foreign ministers exchanged views on possible ways of addressing the situation, including calls for further sanctions against Russia.
Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said European Union leaders would not decide on new sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis at an EU summit in Brussels on Saturday.
“It is clear we will discuss new sanctions as the situation has changed in the last few days … but we will not decide on any new sanctions today,” Stubb said in an interview with YLE public radio.
“If Russia continues with its destabilising efforts (in eastern Ukraine), I think it is right that sanctions will be toughened, but I hope that will not happen.
“There are countries that want to toughen sanctions right away, and countries that want a more calm approach,” he added.
The EU and the United States announced sanctions against Russia at the end of July, targeting its energy, banking and defence sectors. Previously the EU had imposed sanctions only against certain individuals and organisations accused of direct involvement in threatening Ukraine.
By a Staff Reporter