Brussels – Intensive negotiations have begun at the level of the European Union on the possible form of the Union’s response to the latest developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Today, the European Commission held a discussion with diplomats from several member countries about the new sanctions, and according to ČTK information, the Czech ambassador to the EU, Edita Hrdá, also participated in the meeting. The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU called an extraordinary meeting of the ambassadors of the twenty-seventh on Monday.
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced on Thursday night, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, that the European bloc will discuss new “restrictive measures” aimed at Moscow as soon as possible. This would be the seventh package of sanctions since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
According to EU officials and media reports, it could include efforts to set a global ceiling on the price of Russian oil, additional penalties on individuals and companies, or tighter restrictions on trade with Russia. In addition, the head of Czech diplomacy, Jan Lipavský, announced new discussions on the ban on issuing visas to Russian tourists.
In any case, complex negotiations await the Union, as decisions on sanctions require unanimity in the Council of the EU. Similar to the preparation of the sixth package, which eventually included a partial embargo on Russian oil, Hungary could become the central actor. His prime minister, Viktor Orbán, made it known this week that, on the contrary, he would like the anti-Russian sanctions introduced after the invasion of Ukraine to be lifted by the end of the year.
According to information from the Politico website, Hungary has already indicated that it intends to block all energy-related sanctions. Today, in response to a question about Budapest’s position, the spokesman for EU diplomacy, Peter Stano, emphasized that Borrell’s statement on the preparation of new sanctions was supported by all 27 member states of the union.
On the other side are the Baltic countries and Poland, which, according to Politico, are proposing, among other things, sanctions aimed at Russian nuclear energy and processor exports. According to the website, after today’s meeting, which is hosted by the head of the cabinet of EC President Bjoern Seibert, the negotiations on various positions will also continue on Saturday.
On Monday, the meeting of the permanent representatives of the member countries is on the agenda, which was convened by the Czech Presidency of the Council on the basis of the mechanism for responding to “political crises”. It did not want to comment on the topics of the meeting today, in the statement it spoke only about the reaction to “current developments in Russia and Ukraine”. Among the points discussed could also be the question of accepting Russians seeking refuge in the EU from mobilization. So far, member countries have different approaches to granting asylum to these people.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Moscow will call up civilians with military service experience to the war in Ukraine. A large-scale mobilization immediately began in Russia. In addition, the Russian occupiers in the east and south of Ukraine are currently organizing so-called referendums on joining Russia, which may result in the annexation of other Ukrainian regions. Putin indicated that Russia would defend the annexed territories “with all available means”.
“I think it calls for sanctions from our side,” EC chief Ursula von der Leyen responded to Putin’s speech on Wednesday.
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