European Union (EU) foreign ministers insisted on Monday (18) that sanctions against Russia for its invasion in Ukraine are working, despite the threat over energy supplies to the 27-member bloc.
Last week, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban criticized this policy and said that Brussels hurts the economies of European countries more than Moscow. On Monday, EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell rejected this claim.
“Some leaders stated that the sanctions were a mistake, a misunderstanding, I don’t think they are a mistake, that’s what we have to do and we will continue,” Borrell said. Upon his arrival in Brussels, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn rejected the idea of lifting the sanctions.
“That would be fatal. Our credibility is at stake,” he indicated. “In normal times, we would have used diplomacy, the UN, we would have tried to fix this. But we are not in normal times,” he said.
“We are in a time when the laws of the jungle rule,” Asselborn added. Borrell stated that the sanctions “work.” “They are hitting Vladimir Putin and his accomplices hard and their effects on the Russian economy are increasing,” he said in a release this weekend.
European leaders are worried that public opinion will reject the sanctions at a time when rising fuel, gas and electricity prices in Europe are hitting households hard.
Doubts about Russia’s “good faith
The war launched by the Kremlin in Ukraine has had a knock-on effect on citizens, who face “very high commodity and energy prices,” acknowledged the new Belgian foreign minister, Hadja Lahbib.
Moscow is blocking Ukrainian ports and has begun to reduce its gas deliveries to EU countries, on which some, such as Germany and Italy, are heavily dependent.
“Russia is trying to demoralize us,” said Anna Lührmann, German Minister of European Affairs.
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In addition, Russia maintains a blockade on exports of some 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine and also “burns the country’s crops,” Asselborn lamented. Turkey and the UN are negotiating an agreement between the two warring countries and a meeting is scheduled in Istanbul this week. Borrell said Monday that the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine is a “matter of life and death.”
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