The sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation "simply did not work," said Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneisl. The new head of the Foreign Ministry of one of the EU countries did not open America, however she made the question of when the process of lifting sanctions will begin and whether there is a chance for this already in the coming year. The main role here can be played by French President Macron.
With the help of penalty measures, the West and, above all, the USA failed to weaken the Russian oil industry, said the new Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneisl in an interview with Kurier.
In an interview, Kneisl not only approved Russia's military operation in Syria, but also called sanctions an ineffective instrument:
"Sanctions simply did not work ... I can now present to you a mini-report on international law and thereby remind you that the only sanctions with which to achieve the result were sports sanctions against South Africa."
Karin Kneisl led the Austrian Foreign Ministry shortly before the new year - a nonpartisan diplomat with a good knowledge of the Middle East, received her post on the quota of the Austrian Freedom Party, the most Eurosceptive and most intelligently aligned with Russia, the Austrian party. The APS advocated ending the war of sanctions and restoring relations with our country - and becoming the younger partners in the coalition with the Austrian People's Party, whose leader Sebastian Kurtz led the country's government, will continue to insist on his position on the Russian theme.
However, the ANP is also quite negative about the pan-European sanctions against Russia, and in general in Austria it is difficult to find a political force that is in favor of continuing the confrontation with Moscow because of the Crimea and Ukraine.
Moreover, Austrian politicians speak about their dissatisfaction with sanctions and about the fact that it is time to begin their gradual easing and cancellation for more than a year - three years from the almost four that have passed since the introduction of the first EU sanctions. Nevertheless, we can not begin to soften the sanctions restrictions - although Austrian statements like these are heard from the Ministers of the most diverse European countries. A year ago, while the White House hosted the administration of Barack Obama, it could be said that Washington is hampered by the Europeans - it is the "recommendations" of the senior Atlantic brother that do not allow European governments to listen to the opinion of their own business and public opinion.
But for a year now the US is headed by Donald Trump - and the US authorities no longer exert pressure on either the European Union or certain European governments to force them to keep all anti-Russian sanctions intact.
Yes, the executive does not exert pressure - the US Congress not only ordered Trump to maintain sanctions imposed by the United States, but also calls on Europeans to "keep the system". Still, the pressure of the pro-Atlantic elites and the American establishment on Europe has clearly weakened - so why is there not progress? Can 2018 become the year of the beginning of the restoration of European-Russian relations, or will the war of sanctions last for the next decade?
The fact is that the European elites were in a state of extreme turbulence - the EU was unable to move to the next stage of integration, faced with a number of internal and external challenges. The financial and budgetary crisis of the eurozone, the crisis with refugees, the fight against Russia for Ukraine, Brexit, the coming to power of the skeptical towards the EU and NATO Trump in the US, the growth of separatist tendencies in a number of EU regions, the growing popularity of antisystemic, Eurosceptic parties and politicians - all this turned out to be beyond the grind of the European political class. The last decade the helm of Europe was Germany led by Merkel - but now Germany has become entangled in both its European and domestic affairs.
The inability to form a new, already fourth in the bill, the government of Merkel pushes the country to new parliamentary elections: the ruling class is absolutely unnecessary, its two main parties (the CDU and the SPD) will inevitably incur further losses on them. But until the question of power in Germany is solved - through new elections or yet the formation of a new government of Merkel - not a single European problem will be solved.
If there are new elections - and they can pass in April - then the chances that Merkel will again go to them are minimal. If the Chancellor is able to form a new government without elections (in a coalition with the Social Democrats or independently, as the cabinet of a parliamentary minority), then its influence on European affairs will all the same weaken. And the first violin at least for a while will try to play France - more precisely, its president, Macron.
France itself, although in fact it lost the position of one of the two wings of European integration (giving initiative and weight to German hands), still remains the only European country capable of playing a role comparable to that of Germany. If not economically, then politically - including in the promotion of European integration, and in solving the crises faced by the EU. Especially against the backdrop of developing Brexit - the UK's exit from the EU further enhances the role of Paris. But if France can not decide the question of the transition to the next stage of European integration, it depends first of all on Berlin and the entire alignment of forces in Europe, then we can try to rectify the situation on the eastern front with the Macron.
Everyone understands that the war of sanctions with Russia must be stopped - pushing the Ukrainian issue into a corner and inventing some "progress" in the Minsk process on the Donbas. In this sense, the French position - both of big business and politicians - is quite frank on the whole. We need to defend our, European interests in relations with Russia, and not to fulfill the will of those Atlantic, American (not in the sense of Trump, but in terms of the American elite) forces that want to limit European-Russian cooperation. Yes, some German ministers also speak about this part (for example, the same Foreign Minister Gabriel), but in France such a position is more common.
Restoring relations with Russia will be one of Macron's priorities this year - not only in terms of bilateral Franco-Russian, but also European-Russian as a whole. Moreover, if the German internal political struggle leads to the appearance of a new figure on the post of chancellor. So far, the head of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of France Bruno Le Mayor speaking of sanctions, points out that "we are at 100 percent adhere to decisions taken at the European level. France is one of the key EU countries, and we do not even question this decision. There are no opportunities to bypass this political mechanism. "
But at the same time, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he hopes that the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia in the future can be lifted, noting that even within the sanctions mechanism there is a "room for maneuver" that France wants to use for economic cooperation with Russia:
"The conditions so far do not allow us to lift or mitigate sanctions, but I really hope that everything will change."
Le Mayor also added that, despite the continued sanctions regime, Russia and France should support and increase cooperation, and also prepare for the moment when the imposed restrictions will be lifted.
The minister also can not speak in another way - the decision on sanctions had a political character, and even the recognition that they have failed and harmful does not mean their simple cancellation. The will of Berlin and Paris is necessary - after the consent of which in this matter they will be joined by the long-spoken about the harm of sanctions Vienna, Rome and the others. The right moment for the commencement of the procedure for mitigating the sanctions will arise from the middle of this year.
What will happen by this time? Several processes will reach the desired stage.
In Germany, a new government will be formed - in extreme cases following the results of the April extraordinary elections. In the United States, there will be a turning point in the internal political struggle - Trump will be able to completely break out of the blockade imposed by his establishment in the Congress and the media, which will inspire a part of the European elites that is inclined toward reconciliation with Russia. The process of the Syrian settlement will lead to Russia's cooperation with European, primarily French politicians. A progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements will be fixed during the summit meeting in the Norman format (and France this time will not be in the shadow of Germany).
And at the end of May, President Emmanuel Macron will come to St. Petersburg to attend the International Economic Forum, which has just celebrated the anniversary of his election. The best reason to turn the spoiled page of European-Russian relations is difficult to imagine.