EU foreign ministers discuss new Russia sanctions over Sea of Azov incursions

EU foreign ministers discuss new Russia sanctions over Sea of Azov incursions

Today, EU foreign ministers will gather in Brussels to continue discussions regarding the ongoing Ukraine conflict and punitive actions against

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Photo: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Today, EU foreign ministers will gather in Brussels to continue discussions regarding the ongoing Ukraine conflict and punitive actions against Russia.

After meetings of the same group of ministers in November and December, pre-existing sanctions targeting financial, defence and energy sectors were extended by six months. These actions were taken after a standoff between Russian and Ukrainian naval forces in the Kerch Strait in November.

The EU has condemned Moscow’s actions in the strait—which connects Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea—and today, the bloc will issue a diplomatic note of protest over Russia’s ongoing involvement. Specifically, the indefinite imprisonment of 24 Ukrainian soldiers captured in the November incident remains a major point of contention.

Today’s meeting will centre around potential additional sanctions for Moscow, though harsher financial or energy sanctions are unlikely to receive the requisite unanimous approval to take effect. Indeed, Italy has voiced reservations due to business interests with Russian firms, while Hungary maintains close ties with Russia. Expect sanctions to remain unchanged in the short-term, barring a flashpoint in the conflict or a harsh ruling against the Ukrainian soldiers who currently await trial. A further extension of existing sanctions is likely, though the current sanctions regime has not deterred Russia in the past, leaving Moscow and the EU at a standoff.

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