Further sanctions billed for Russia?
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grzegorz Schetyna has said that a third round of EU sanctions aimed at Moscow will be put into motion if the Minsk Agreement fails or if pro-Russian separatists increase their influence in the occupied regions of eastern Ukraine.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (left) with Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna meet in Warsaw, 06.03.2015 Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński
“Works on the next round of sanctions are under way so that they can be implemented immediately,” Schetyna said on Friday morning following a meeting with his British opposite number Philip Hammond in Warsaw.
However, Schetyna did not want to reveal the nature of the sanctions which could be imposed.
One restriction which could be implemented is the exclusion of Russian banks from the international SWIFT transfer system. However, Schetyna said that “this is the atom bomb of sanctions” and would be used as a “last resort”.
Speaking in Warsaw as part of a tour of all EU capitals, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond maintained that the Minsk Agreement “is the only tool that we currently have for settling this dispute”.
Hammond added that the new sanctions would be imposed if there was a “further step of major aggression from the Russian side or if obligations under the Minsk Agreement are not complied with”.
“Poland and the UK stand absolutely together on the question of European sanctions […] and maintaining European Union alignment with the United States on this question,” Hammond added.
The second Minsk Agreement, signed on the 12 February, foresaw a ceasefire deal between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the war-torn Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
However, while the ceasefire was generally adhered to, fighting continued in Debaltseve, a major rail hub, before Ukrainian forces eventually backed out after continued separatist aggression in the area. (jb)