The European Union needs to take a tougher posture against Russia’s “provocative and assertive” connection with the bloc, reliable with Romania’s minister of state.
Sanctions over the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and therefore the recent poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny have had a limited impact, Bogdan Aurescu said in an interview. A replacement strategy to affect the Kremlin should also seek to spice up independent Russian media and civil society, and aim for a more “influential” EU role in solving regional conflicts, like the one between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, he said.
“There’s clear room for improvement and there’s a requirement for broader actions,” Aurescu said Friday by phone. He expects the EU Council to debate the problems at its next meeting this month.
The EU has faced criticism for resisting calls by Navalny’s allies to sanction billionaires and bankers on the brink of President Vladimir Putin’s government, instead opting to penalize four Russians from the law-enforcement sphere. While the U.S. has firstly followed outfit, it’s also seeing events that would target oligarchs or the nation’s independent debt.
The EU’s response to Navalny’s attempted killing followed a visit to Moscow previous month by its foreign-policy chief, Josep Borrell, through which his colleague, Sergei Lavrov, mocked the bloc. Aurescu said its clear Russia doesn’t want to possess a traditional relationship with the EU.
While some sanctions might not have had “a spectacular effect,” a failure to impose any punishment “would have sent a completely negative signal to the international community,” he said.
Aurescu singles out coronavirus vaccinations, which have taken on a geopolitical element, as a neighborhood where more action is required. Russia and China are already shipping their domestically developed shots to EU member state Hungary, also as countries bordering the bloc, including Serbia and Montenegro.
“I hope the EU will hurry up its hard work to become present in these countries with approved injections to avoid a falling of this vaccine crisis,” Aurescu said.