No grounds for EU to ease sanctions against Russia – Harms
Despite calls for a ceasefire in Donbas because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an escalation of hostilities, and human rights violations in Crimea annexed by Russia are only increasing, so there is no reason for Europeans to relax sanctions, the member of the European Parliament in 2004-2019, Rebecca Harms, has said.
Europeans should be united, and EU leaders should be united in the decision to extend the sanctions, she said during an online discussion at the Kyiv Security Forum on Friday, May 15.
She expressed the hope that this will be in this way in the future, because of COVID-19, there is a certain chance for Russia to gain more influence on these decisions in its interests. However, Russia has failed to do this. There were serious calls for a ceasefire because of COVID-19, but nothing happened, she said. On the contrary, there was an escalation of hostilities in Donbas. If one looks at Crimea, there will only be violation of human rights, therefore there is no reason to weaken the sanctions for Europeans, she said.
Harms added that she does not expect a change in the sanctions policy against Russia, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel firmly defends this position, but does not advise Kyiv to "cast doubt on the Minsk accords."
She also did not recommend fundamentally questioning the Minsk agreements. The former Ukrainian leadership signed these agreements, the EU was critical and skeptical of them from the very beginning, but if Ukraine wants the sanctions to remain, and Ukraine probably wants this, then the country should not question the very basis of the Minsk agreements, focus on a ceasefire, as certain Ukrainian politicians do. She said that this is the best way.
At the same time, Harms said that Europeans should not allow Russia to get such an agreement that would allow it to have a military presence in the territory of Donbas.
Also, the former member of the European Parliament drew attention to the fact that Ukraine needs to continue the initiated reforms. She expressed confidence that a lot needs to be done in this regard. There were certain mistakes and failures, as in any other country, she said.