How long will Europe's sanctions last?
For the first time since the annexation of Crimea European politicians have convened with Russian President Vladimir Putin. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi travelled to St. Petersburg on Thursday to attend the International Economic Forum there. This prompts commentators to speculate on the future of the EU sanctions against Moscow
Moscow continues on confrontation path
Juncker's appearance at the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg cannot conceal the fact that an end to the sanctions is not in sight, the conservative daily Die Presse believes:
“For an easing of the sanctions to be considered, the Russian side would have to take appropriate action in Donbass. Moscow has shown at certain moments in the negotiation process that it can adopt a different stance: the exchange of prisoners in Ukraine is a positive sign. ... Last autumn a ceasefire held for several weeks. And its support for the separatists is not unlimited. In the Russian pro-government media that act as mouthpieces for the Kremlin, the opaque and fruitless operation has long since been replaced by the far more presentable use of modern weapons in Syria. Unfortunately Moscow still seems to be speculating that it can resolve the conflict with Europe through either its gas policy, a wait-and-see approach or the weakening of its opponents.”
The ice will soon melt
The sanctions against Moscow will be lifted by the end of the year, Il Sole 24 Ore predicts:
“The idea that a fresh wind could soon be blowing is mixed up with the great caution of 500 foreign companies who have travelled from 60 different countries to St. Petersburg. They are taking part but trying to remain in the background of this event that looks more like a pan-Russian affair. The fact that a Crimean pavilion is ensconced among all the stands representing the regions of the Russian Federation is a reminder that the Ukraine crisis is far from over. … So no one doubts that the European sanctions will be extended for another six months at the summit of heads of state and government taking place at the end of June. However, as the strained relations with Moscow are costing several states billions of dollars in losses, a change of direction is expected for the end of the year.”