20 February 2015
The EU must ratchet up sanctions on Russia if the situation in Ukraine worsens, a Lords report warns today. The report also states that Russia’s action in a sovereign territory was unacceptable, but that in the run-up to the crisis, mistakes were made by the EU as well as Russia.
The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on External Affairs is issuing its warning in its report ‘The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine’.
The Committee also stresses the need for the EU to look beyond the present crisis by undertaking work on the terms on which its relationship with Russia should be conducted in the long term. The report highlights areas where the EU might be able to work with Russia to develop a genuinely collaborative relationship.
Run-up to the crisis in Ukraine:
There was an element of sleep-walking into the Ukraine crisis, and EU institutions and Member States did not see it coming. The Committee found that the absence of political oversight was glaring.
The EU should renew and tighten them in the short term if there is no progress on the Minsk Protocol and the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Under those circumstances, the EU should target President Putin’s inner circle and broaden sanctions to the financial sector. However, in the long term, sanctions are detrimental to the EU's interests and the progressive removal of sanctions should be part of the EU’s negotiating position.
Role of the UK:
The Committee found that the Foreign Office has lost expertise and analytical capacity on Russia and the region, and that the UK and other Member States were unable to read events on the ground and offer an authoritative response. The Government needs to reconsider how it can regain these skills.
Ukraine’s reconstruction needs considerably more funds than have already been committed. However, the disbursement of funds must come with conditions for reform, such as tackling corruption