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EU Sanctions (Russia)

Volume 587: debated on Tuesday 28 October 2014

8. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of EU sanctions against Russia in encouraging a change of approach by that country towards eastern Ukraine. (905695)

EU sanctions are having a clear impact on Russia’s economy. Capital flight has increased, and Russian access to western financial markets is severely constrained. Sanctions are estimated to have slowed GDP growth by 1%, and to have contributed to the rouble’s falling by 20% against the dollar since 1 January. The fall in the oil price is piling further pressure on the Russian economy.

What is the Foreign Secretary’s considered assessment of the relationship between the dependence of some of our European partners on Russian energy supplies, and the effectiveness and robustness of the sanctions that we have pursued against Russia?

The sanctions are robust. I think that the important relationship is between the dependence on Russian energy supplies and the robustness of the position of some of our partners on the question of maintaining those sanctions. Fortunately, the sanctions that are in place will last until March or May, depending on the type of sanction involved, before any opportunity arises to debate their renewal or otherwise. That means that, at the very least, we shall get through the winter with the sanctions in place.[Official Report, 3 November 2014, Vol. 587, c. 6MC.]

We hear that today, having apparently endorsed the main Ukrainian elections, Moscow has yet again reiterated its support for separate elections in Luhansk and Donetsk, thus undermining the peace process. Does the Foreign Secretary think that that should lead the European Union to review the level of sanctions that is appropriate, and, if necessary, enhance it?

I think that the correct response is simply to ignore, and refuse to recognise, the results of any elections that were organised illegally by the separatists.

24. Sanctions should be a means to a diplomatic end. These sanctions are clearly having an impact on the Russian economy, but will the Secretary of State update the House on what diplomatic reaction there has been from President Putin in the light of the pressure on his economy? (905711)

I do not think that the phrases “diplomatic reaction” and “President Putin” usually go hand in hand. There has certainly been a reaction from President Putin, but I am not sure whether it could be described as diplomatic.

Channels are open. The Germans, in particular, maintain a close dialogue with the Kremlin. I think that the Kremlin understands, and needs to understand, the determination of the European Union to stand firm, and the fact that Russia must honour its obligations under the Minsk agreement. There is nothing else to discuss at the moment.