The restrictions should remain in place even if they don’t have an immediate impact on Moscow, the EU’s foreign policy chief said
The EU should not lift the sanctions it imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict even if they don’t have an immediate effect, because they work like a “diet,” the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a plenary session of the European Parliament, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs commented on calls from the Western Balkans urging Brussels to remove anti-Russian restrictions, saying it’s important for the EU “to press the point that sanctions are effective.”
Last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic predicted that Europe would face a “polar” winter next year, largely due to the sanctions the EU has levied on Russia, which impact the energy sector. While Serbia is not a part of the EU, the country’s energy supply routes run through countries that are, meaning that the nation would inevitably be hurt by the restrictions.
“We cannot lift [sanctions] until they have had their effect. They may not have an immediate impact. It’s like going on a diet to lose weight and being upset that you haven’t lost kilos and kilos after just a couple of weeks,” the diplomat said.
According to Borrell, the sanctions “diet” must remain in place, otherwise the “kilograms you’ve already lost will be very easily put on again.”
The top diplomat insisted that despite the sweeping restrictions that the EU has imposed on Russia over its military campaign in Ukraine, it still must speak to the Russian leadership.
“Diplomats are trained to talk to everyone, and undoubtedly there are some things that we need to discuss with the President of Russia,” he noted.
Borrell believes that the West should talk with Russia particularly on the subject of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which has been repeatedly shelled by Kiev’s forces, according to Moscow.
The diplomat said that the EU should discuss the facility’s safety with Russia, because there is “no one else to talk to” apart from Moscow on the matter.
“There are certain issues that could not be addressed without active input from the Russian authorities,” he reiterated, citing as another example the UN- and Turkey- brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea.
The anti-Russia sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the EU economy, leaving it to grapple with soaring inflation and an energy crisis largely caused by the bloc’s decision to cut itself off from Russian oil as well as the shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.