Early reports out of Europe indicate that the Malaysia Air disaster is creating a consensus on Russia in Brussels—at least somewhat. The Financial Times:
“It can only accelerate the European move towards sanctions against Russia,” said one diplomat from a central European country. “It will be easier to get agreement on additional measures.”Although diplomats said the timing of the new sanctions could be speeded up, it remained unclear whether they would target a wider range of groups because of the incident.“It might have an impact on speed but not yet on substance,” said another EU diplomat involved in the talks.Added a third diplomat: “The hawks are energised and the majority is getting pulled along.”
The FT goes on to report, however, that some Ukrainian leaders may be getting too excited as to how much the tide has turned. Yulia Tymoshenko reportedly issued a call for sweeping “phase three” sanctions and for NATO to come to Ukraine’s aid.That level of involvement and commitment just isn’t very likely to happen. As Adam Garfinkle wrote last night, this tragedy presents many opportunities for hawkish leaders to extract concessions from fence-straddling skeptics not convinced that Russia is playing a malign role in the conflict:
Want stronger EU support for sanctions against the Putin regime so that we allies can remain in Transatlantic coalition and be more effective at the same time? This is a great time to bang that drum. Want the French to cancel the odious Mistral order? Bang, bang, bang.
But beyond that, there are real hard limits to how far the West will go.