EU must make most of few options with Russia

Ann Cahill, Irish Examiner, 25.03.2014

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Russia has kicked out the last of the Ukrainian army from Crimea, their own troops are massed on the eastern borders of the country itself, and it has its sights set on Moldova and Georgia.

The message from Russia president Vladimir Putin is that “Russia can do what it likes” —and nobody can stop it.

EU leaders froze the assets of a dozen more Russians at their summit last week and promised sleeping bags and boots to Ukraine’s dishevelled army. [...]

Bringing Russia to its knees economically did little to influence Putin’s policies in the past — they lost two years of GDP growth after Georgia. It did little to reset Belarus, now firmly in the Eurasian Union, being pushed by Moscow as it falls into increasing poverty. But then, EU sanctions have had little effect either.

The question Janis Emmanouilidis of the European Policy Centre asks is: “Could the March 2014 European Council enter the history books as a turning point, not only in the EU’s relations with Russia but also in its role as foreign policy actor?”

Emmanouilidis concludes that only time will tell.

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