EU Sanctions Are Influencing Russia Over Ukraine, Envoy Says

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European Union sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine are having a positive effect on Russia’s actions, the EU’s ambassador in Moscow said.

The 28-member bloc is “facing a severe rift in our relations” with Russia because of the Ukrainian crisis, Vygaudas Usackas told Bloomberg Television in an interview on Thursday. At the same time the EU and the U.S. have leverage over Russia, which is going through “tough times” amid huge investor uncertainty, he said.

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine aren’t fully honoring the terms of the peace agreement negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in February, Usackas said. The EU is keeping all options open in its response to Russia as it considers how to proceed with sanctions against the Kremlin, which were extended on Monday for six months until the end of January.

“The policy has a very clear-cut line -- sanctions are linked to a full implementation of Minsk and, with the implementation, the sanctions that were imposed as a consequence of direct destabilization of eastern Ukraine will be lifted,” Usackas said. “At the moment that is the policy. It will depend on the dynamic of what is going to happen.”

Usackas spoke a day after President Vladimir Putin extended Russia’s ban on certain food imports from the EU by a year from August 6 in retaliation for the decision by European leaders to prolong sanctions. The EU’s measures, which have helped to push Russia’s economy into its first recession in six years, restrict financing for major Russian banks, ban the export of sophisticated energy-exploration equipment, and prohibit the sale of weapons and some civilian goods with military uses.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that Russia’s list of banned food is mostly similar to last year’s. He added that it could be changed for different reasons, including relations with the EU.

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