Sunday, May 28, 2023

EU holds ‘difficult discussions’ over sanctioning companies that supply arms to Russia

The foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) will hold this Friday “difficult discussions” on the eleventh package of sanctions against Russia, with the possibility of penalizing companies from third countries, including China, to send military material to Moscow in the war against Ukraine.

“It’s something new, we’re doing it for the first time and I’m sure there will be difficult discussions. Absolutely,” said the head of diplomacy AustriaAlexander Schallenberg, upon his arrival at the informal meeting that the EU foreign ministers begin today in Stockholm, which will continue tomorrow.

The Austrian minister stated that it is a “legitimate discussion” and said that the option of sanctioning third-country companies that help circumvent European sanctions against Russia is “correct and important.”

The German minister, Annalena Baerbock, was also in favor of this possibility because “we want to prevent the delivery of military equipment from other countries to Russia”, since that would be “direct support for the aggressor” that “would have consequences”.

Baerbock, however, stressed that Beijing “has made it clear” that he is not giving arms to Moscow.

Along the same lines, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated that it is about “a good instrument” and his Dutch counterpart, Wopke Hoekstra, said the EU must be “more explicit” in preventing third countries or companies from helping Russia dodge European sanctions.

However, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign AffairsJosep Borrellnoted that “the discussion has only begun” and no decision has yet been made.

China, in fact, has already stated that it will react “strictly and severely” if the EU approves these sanctions, on which there is no consensus among the Twenty-seven.

No minister wanted to speak openly about the United States’ accusation of South Africa for supplying arms to Russia, relying on the need to gather all the necessary information before making a decision.


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