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The EU and Russia
The European Sanctions Dance

A deal on EU sanctions against Russia is emerging, and it could keep the fractious block on the same page ahead of this week’s EU summit. The sanctions will not be extended this month, but language will be approved to keep them in place until the full text of the Minsk agreements is implemented. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The understanding, crafted in talks in Brussels, Paris and Berlin in recent days, aims to create a broad consensus at an EU leaders summit this week that when heads of government meet again in June or July, they would likely extend the economic sanctions on Russia through at least the rest of 2015. […]

According to several people involved in the talks, there is now what one diplomat called a clear “political understanding” that there will be no decision to renew sanctions this week. However, the leaders’ statement is expected to say sanctions will be tied to Russia fully implementing its Minsk obligations, which include the crucial step of handing back control of the Ukrainian border at the end of 2015.

Extending the sanctions would be “more or less a formality” at the next EU leaders summit, said a second senior official involved in discussions. The emerging political deal would “get the issue out of the way for now.”

Since the deal includes Russia surrendering control of its border with Ukraine by the end of 2015, the sanctions will automatically be rolled over at the next EU summit, before they are set to expire in July.

That’s the hope, anyway. Other sources identify a bloc emerging that favors lifting sanctions, which includes Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Spain. Because of the way the EU constitution was designed, only one veto is necessary for the sanctions regime to falter.

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