Brussels based think tank: sanctions relief towards Russia needed

A new report “Peace in Ukraine 1: A European War” of the Brussels based International Crisis Group (ICG) outlines the “need” of the Euratlantic community to be more “flexible” towards Russia. It is the first one in the series of reports of this think tank on the war in Ukraine. The authors of the report recommend the European decisionmakers to “engage Russia in discussions of European security… They should also consider adjusting the current sanctions regime to allow for the lifting of some penalties if Russia contributes to real progress toward peace”.

The narrative of the report is that it is the West’s behavior that contributed to the perception of the Kremlin that Russia is not secure, which leads to the aggressive behavior of Russia, so the West has to change its approach to allow Russia to change its own. The report gives the impression that we are talking not about a sovereign country but about a bargaining chip between Russia and the West, and the West has to consider Moscow’s will, which is to keep the Russian influence on Ukraine.

The report gives the impression that we are talking not about a sovereign country but about a bargaining chip between Russia and the West

It has to be noted that Olga Oliker, the Europe and Central Asia program director of the ICG, who defends the report, commented on Ukraine’s involvement in Trump’s impeachment last September: “Ukrainian leaders see U.S. diplomatic and material support as crucial in their standoff with Russia, making it hard for the country to resist a request seen as coming directly from the White House. Ukraine is really dependent on American aid and support, and that makes it an easy country to influence, because of that, at least on paper. If you’ve got somebody over a barrel, they’re likely to do what you ask.”

The other aspect of the narrative in the report is that the sanctions are not really efficient but at the same time the report suggests “Russia could be granted access to some capital markets or limited technologies and services in the oil sector in exchange for Moscow’s success in pressuring its proxies to provide access to monitors and to honour any ceasefire”.

The report was picked by Euractiv: “EU should consider ‘flexible’ Russia sanctions over Ukraine: report”, – the title states. Yet the author of the Euractiv article Vlagyiszlav Makszimov has also approached one of the key MEPs for Ukraine-matters Andrius Kubilius who chairs the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. According to the MEP, “there is only one and very clear way to consider lifting sanctions – if Russia ceases its intervention and aggression against Ukraine”.

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