Prague – The impact of sanctions on the Russian economy is increasing, especially in aviation, for example. The sanctions have an effect on the local industry, which will also deepen. At today’s inter-parliamentary conference on foreign, security and defense policy in Prague, EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said this, joining via video.
According to Vice President of the European Commission Borrell, the foreign ministers of EU countries led the debate on sanctions at a meeting in Prague last week. “People say that Russia is constantly receiving a lot of money from the sale of gas and oil. This is of course true because the price is going up, but our influence on Russian industry and its influence is very important and will deepen,” he said. According to him, it takes a certain amount of time for the sanctions to take effect completely.
Russia has also reduced oil and gas production, according to Borrell. “This means that the impact of Western technology and companies withdrawing from the Russian market is great,” he noted.
EU states have already adopted six direct sanctions packages, the last set of sanctions was approved in July – but European Commission representatives do not refer to this as the seventh package of sanctions, but rather as a refinement of the sanctions adopted until then. This set concerned the ban on the import of Russian gold and the restriction of the export of products that can be used for military purposes. Sanctions against the largest Russian bank, Sberbank, were also expanded. Five dozen Russian citizens and several companies were added to the sanctions list.
With the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is also a test of the capabilities of the EU countries, he believes. It is the responsibility of the EU and the states to solve the issue of high prices and break energy dependence on Russia. The energy crisis has a big impact on citizens, Borrell said. Russia is using gas and oil prices as part of hybrid warfare, he added.
Last week, ministers also discussed the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine on the African continent. Some countries there are facing food shortages, and the Russian narrative is that Western sanctions are to blame for the crisis, Borrell said. Some governments, media and companies are listening to this narrative. “We have to be very careful not to get our relations with African countries to a point where it becomes unsustainable,” he added.
Borrell also recalled that the heads of diplomacy of the EU countries agreed to suspend the agreement facilitating the issuance of visas to Russian tourists. On the other hand, they did not find agreement on the blanket suspension of issuing visas to Russian tourists or a significant reduction in their number, which was demanded, among others, by Poland, Finland, the Czechia and the Baltic countries.
Today, the chairman of the Latvian parliamentary foreign committee, Rihards Kols, again called on the EU to be tougher in its visa policy towards Russian tourists. According to him, the argument that the EU should be open to Russians who want to be inspired by democracy is odd, because according to him, the Russians could have been inspired by Western democracies since 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, and this did not happen. He does not think that a visit to the Charles Bridge or European beaches will change anything. According to Kols, one million Russian citizens have crossed the borders of Estonia and Finland since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.
Borrell responded that states can exercise national capacities to control cross-border traffic. According to Borrel, the fact that someone has a visa does not mean that he can automatically enter a country. According to him, the ministers agreed on the introduction of elements that will allow greater control and a reduction in the number of visas. “I understand that some countries are facing an influx of tourists that does not correspond to the war situation. This can be solved, but it is not possible to completely isolate the Russian population from Europe,” he added.
According to the conclusions of the ministers’ meeting, the European Commission and other institutions should try to find a way to solve the problem of the Baltic states, which need to limit the movement of hundreds of thousands of Russians across the border for security reasons.
EU Russia Ukraine Parliament Government Diplomacy Security Presidency