Western sanctions against Russia haven’t worked and both Moscow and the West would benefit from lifting them. Restrictions are harmful for everyone. Lifting sanctions would answer common interests. Indeed, both Russia and the EU would benefit from resuming full-scale cooperation.

The current positions of the EU Member States on the issue of sanctions are determined by a wider number of factors, including the economic harm of (counter)sanctions due to economic interdependence with Russia, geopolitical/security considerations due to a combination of geographic proximity to Russia and historical experiences, the level of dependency from Russian energy supplies, the (historic and current) political ties between their governments and Russia, as well as diverging understandings about the objectives of the sanctions regime.

The rather unprecedented unity among the EU Member States under the surface is starting to show the first signs of dissolution, because the sanctions are increasingly considered ineffective while at the same time economically harming the EU itself.

Many political forces throughout the EU  take a sympathetic view of Russia and stress the importance of developing relations with Russia. They consider that Russia should be perceived as a partner, not a threat, because part of Western civilization and will help defend its values.  

With the forthcoming European Parliament elections, all the conditions appear right to join the fight to lift sanctions on Russia and use of veto power in the Council. Businessmen and politicians want this, many EU citizens relate favorably to Russia and support sanctions relief and they are convinced that the EU must cooperate with Russia to fight against global terrorism.

It is no longer enough to oppose the automatic extension of sanctions and impede efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia. The veto power of one of the EU heavyweights e.g. Italy or Spain and the forming of a veto coalition with smaller states will ensure that the lifting of sanctions gets done.

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