Drop sanctions & reach out to Russia or drive it into China’s embrace – France’s Sarkozy

Drop sanctions & reach out to Russia or drive it into China’s embrace – France’s Sarkozy
Europe should reach out to Russia and abandon “counterproductive” economic sanctions – or risk seeing it drifting further towards China, former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy has warned, in a candid interview.

Alienating Russia brings nothing but harm to European interests, Sarkozy told France’s Point media outlet. “Europe and Russia must work together in an atmosphere of trust,” he said, adding that “sanctions are counterproductive.”

Commenting on the latest batch of American sanctions targeting Russian debt bonds, Sarkozy suggested that “the worst” is yet to come as the US Congress plans “to asphyxiate 140 million Russians by depriving Russian banks of access to international funding.”

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“Do they think about consequences at all?” Sarkozy wondered, adding he believes the West’s policy towards Moscow has been profoundly wrong and up to this date “everything has been done to push Russia into China’s embrace.”

“We must reach out to Russia. It is now important to imagine above Europe a new supranational organization that brings together three founding partners: Europe, Turkey and Russia.”

Echoing other French politicians calling for a détente with Moscow, Sarkozy said Russian support is instrumental in combating terrorism and providing leverage for economic cooperation.

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He also suggested that a “supranational organization” should be created, bringing together Europe, Russia and Turkey – a country stuck in a long-simmering spat with Brussels over its EU accession bid.

Sarkozy believes the Europeans should reach out to Russia instead of following the US suit. The former president, who over the years has moved towards strengthening relations with Moscow, admits that “notwithstanding the disagreements between us, Vladimir Putin has brought Russia back to center stage.”

The EU imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014 after its reunification with Crimea and the subsequent military conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began when Kiev sent troops to quell the anti-coup rebels, but for which the West has laid blame on Moscow. The sanctions are limiting access to capital markets for various Russian banks, their subsidiaries, and defense companies. They also target some government officials, businessmen and public figures allegedly involved in the Ukrainian conflict. In July this year, the EU extended that batch of sanctions until February 2019.

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