#Russia can no longer be considered a ‘strategic partner’, say MEPs

| March 14, 2019
This week, MEPs agreed that the EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law.

Parliament adopted on Tuesday (12 March) a resolution by 402 votes to 163, with 89 abstentions, assessing the current state of EU-Russia political relations.

Sanctions must be prolonged

MEPs note that new areas of tension between the EU and Russia have arisen since 2015, including Russia’s intervention in Syria, interference in countries such as Libya and the Central African Republic, and continuous aggressive action in Ukraine. They also highlight Russia’s support for anti-EU parties and far-right movements, and that it keeps meddling in political elections and violating human rights in its own state.

Taking stock of these violations of international law, MEPs stress that the EU should stand ready to adopt further sanctions against Russia, especially those targeting individuals. Sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia, they add. In December last year, the Council prolonged economic sanctions until 31 July 2019.

Addressing global challenges together

The resolution underlines that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia and limit cooperation to areas of common interest. Global challenges, such as climate change, energy security, digitalisation, artificial intelligence and the fight against terrorism call for selective engagement, MEPs say.

Closer relations will only be possible if Russia fully implements the so-called Minsk agreements to end the war in eastern Ukraine and starts respecting international law, says the text.

Response to disinformation

MEPs condemn Russia‘s disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states. They are deeply concerned that the EU‘s response to propaganda and disinformation is insufficient and should be further strengthened, in particular before the upcoming European elections in May 2019. In this regard, the funding and human resources for the EU‘s East Stratcom Task Force must be substantially increased, they stress.

Threat to the neighbours

Parliament strongly denounces Russia‘s violation of the airspace of EU states, especially in the Baltic Sea region, where territorial waters and the airspace have been repeatedly breached. This disregard for international rules poses a threat to Russia‘s neighbours in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Medditeranean regions.

Nord Stream 2

MEPs also reiterate their concerns that the Nord Stream-2 project could reinforce the EU‘s dependence on Russian gas supplies and threaten the EU internal market.

Support to authoritarian regimes and disruptive political forces

MEPs are concerned about Russia‘s continuous support for authoritarian regimes and countries such as North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Syria. They also regret that in order to destabilise EU candidate countries, Russia gives its support to organisations and political forces like those opposing the Prespa Agreement that has resolved the long-standing dispute on the name between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

Russia‘s economic warfare

MEPs condemn illegal financial activities and money laundering by Russia, potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year, which poses a threat to European security and stability. The report underlines that EU countries concerned must end all ‘golden visa/passport’ programmes, which benefit Russian oligarchs.

“The time for nice and diplomatic language is over. There is very little room for any cooperation as long as Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and attacks other European countries,” said rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV).

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