EU makes new threat to Russia
The EU could impose economic measures on Russia if Moscow opts to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics as sovereign states, senior European officials have warned.
Threats of sanctions, announced on Tuesday, followed a resolution passed earlier that day by Russia’s State Duma (parliament). MPs voted in favor of a motion, addressed to President Vladimir Putin, that called for Moscow to formally announce its support for the independence of DPR and LPR. Thus far, Russia’s policy has been to treat the two regions as legitimate parts of Ukraine, as is the international consensus.
Donetsk and Lugansk, both in the Donbass, broke away from the control of Ukraine in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Kiev. Ukraine believes Russia is backing the two breakaway republics. However, Putin has repeatedly refused to recognize them as independent, instead calling on Kiev to give them special status inside Ukraine.
Now, with Russian parliamentarians asking the president to formally declare the two self-proclaimed republics as sovereign states, Moscow has been warned that it could face another round of sanctions.
“The resolution by the Russian State Duma calling for the recognition of so-called Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics as ‘sovereign states’ is a deplorable and contrary to the international law,” said Edgars Rinkēvičs, Latvia’s foreign minister. “If Russia moves in this direction, the EU must act and impose sanctions.”
He was quickly backed up by his counterpart in Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, who called the State Duma motion “an open escalation.”
“Approval by the Kremlin should be met with swift and decisive sanctions,” he said.
Shortly afterwards, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets also came out in agreement and suggested that the recognition by Moscow of the DPR and LPR would be “a very serious violation of international law.”
However, despite the Duma resolution, it doesn’t look like Russia will be recognizing the self-styled republics in the near future. Speaking after the motion passed, Putin suggested that the situation be resolved with diplomacy, and according to the promises previously made by Ukraine, to give Donbass a special status.