EU extends sanctions against Russia
The EU has extended its economic sanctions against Russia until the end of January 2016. As long as Moscow does not abide by the Minsk Peace Plan the sanctions will not be eased, the EU foreign ministers resolved on Monday in Luxembourg. The sanctions are missing their target, commentators write, fearing that the EU economy will suffer long-term damage.
Russian soul defies sanctions
Extending the sanctions is the right step even if they haven't brought Moscow to its knees yet, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes comments: "The war of conquest in Ukraine continues, albeit with less intensity than before right now. But people are still dying there. And Crimea remains annexed, which defies all the rules of international law. … The reason for the sanctions' lack of success is not the Kremlin's dictatorial constipation. The root cause is a certain stubbornness hidden deep in the Russian soul. A steadfast refusal to give in to external forces. They would rather give up everything, even their current living standards, than get used to the idea that someone dares to mete out insulting punishment to them, their creed goes. This is all served up with a garnish of the kind of propaganda we're familiar with from the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany. The sanctions are better than nothing. But they won't be the game-changer in the dispute with Russia."
EU export industry permanently weakened
The EU sanctions as well as Russia's counter-sanctions could lead to enduring losses in the food industry, the liberal daily Hämeen Sanomat fears: "The sanctions have weakened Russia's economy, but not to the extent that the EU has moved closer to its original goals. The import ban on foreign foodstuffs has led Russia to develop and refine its own production and processing industry. If these investments improve its national food production in the long term, it may be that the EU's food exports to the East never return to their former level, even if the sanctions and counter-sanctions are lifted one day. The EU front has remained firm and none of the member states have broken the lines even if this would have helped national interests. This is why those countries who are making the biggest losses must receive compensation in a show of solidarity."
Ukraine conflict threatens entire continent
Notwithstanding the prolongation of the sanctions, the EU is dangerously turning its back on the war in Ukraine, the centre-right daily Le Temps warns: "This is a war that we would prefer not to see. And in fact it results in few deaths, it disturbs little and doesn't really attract a lot of interest. So why worry about it? In the east of Ukraine not a day goes by without exchanges of gunfire and new bloodshed: 6,500 fatalities so far. ... This war that no one wants to call by name has displaced hundreds of thousands and provoked a severe humanitarian crisis. But who cares? ... Europe's refusal to face the facts is all the more worrying given that at any moment the trial of strength could degenerate into a generalised confrontation between Ukraine and its most powerful neighbour. The war in Donbass is taking place along this fault line that threatens not only to bring about Ukraine's demise, but also to destabilise the entire continent."