US Loses Patience with Europe Washington Wants Tough Russia Sanctions

Following the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, calls are growing in Washington for tough sanctions against Moscow. Many European governments are still hesitating, paving the way for the next big trans-Atlantic row.

Running out of patience: US President Barack Obama says the downing in Ukraine of a Malaysia Airlines flight should serve as a "wakeup call" for Europe on Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Running out of patience: US President Barack Obama says the downing in Ukraine of a Malaysia Airlines flight should serve as a "wakeup call" for Europe on Russia and Vladimir Putin.

By in Brussels

Usually, it takes quite an effort for the ambassador of a European Union member state in Washington to raise the attention of the American government. But lately, it hasn't been difficult at all. "The calls and requests just don't stop," said one European diplomat in the US capital.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 over eastern Ukraine, presumably by pro-Russian separatists, is considered to be a game changer in Washington -- an event of such magnitude that the status quo is no longer possible. All 298 passengers on board the Boeing 777 perished in the crash.

Washington officials have been clear with the Europeans about the lessons it has learned from the disaster, namely that EU members should adopt a tougher stance in its dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even prior to the Flight MH 17 disaster, pressure for additional sanctions in Washington had been growing. Bloomberg reported that Deputy National Security Advisor Anthony Blinken held a closed-door meeting a week ago with EU ambassadors to inform them of the actions Washington would like to see Europe take.

Photo Gallery

13  Photos
Photo Gallery: The Contested Crash Site of MH17
The Americans are proposing an end to EU weapons deliveries to Russia. With orders on the books for two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships for Russia worth €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion), that move could hit France particularly hard. The White House also says it would like to see further restrictions placed on Russia's access to money and capital markets.

Washington Doesn't Want Further Excuses

The US government's message is clear: Impatience is growing over the constant excuse given by the Europeans that they can't afford to isolate Russia for economic and energy policy reasons. Public statements given by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are getting brisker, with both speaking in unison of a "wakeup call for Europe."

On Sunday, Kerry told ABC News there was "powerful" evidence suggesting that the Russians had provided both training and weapons to the rebels.

In US government circles, many believe the Europeans will go along with sanctions this time. "This tragedy is so enormous, and above all so palpable for European countries like the Netherlands, that the Europeans will finally have to move decisively against Putin," says Jack Janes of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington. Some 189 of the passengers who perished on board Flight MH 17 were Dutch citizens.

Will the Europeans be swayed this time? Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and his Polish colleague Radoslaw Sikorski have both called for tougher sanctions against Moscow. And British Defense Minister Michael Fallon has accused Russia of "sponsored terrorism".

Although they threatened there would be "consequences" for Moscow over the weekend, EU members Italy, Germany and France have remained hesitant about applying further sanctions.

Many EU leaders believe that sufficient action was taken at a summit last week in which they expanded current sanctions that are largely focused on banning travel and blocking the foreign bank accounts of oligarch billionaires who support Russian decision-makers.

Hesitance in Europe

It remains uncertain whether EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday will go beyond a general discussion of the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight to actually agree on further punitive measures. The French government is also opposed to British calls to penalize the entire Russian defense sector.

Cameron is now considering an alternative embargo applying only to new weapons deals with Russia, which would exclude the French Mistral sale. That deal was approved by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011.

His successor, François Hollande, said earlier this week that the first helicopter carrier is nearly complete and would be delivered as planned in October. However, he said delivery of a second ship would depend on Russia's attitude in the Ukraine crisis.

Obama's government is expected to wait until after the EU foreign ministers meet on Tuesday, but administration officials are already preparing the next steps, with measures aimed at Russia's financial sector. Officials are also considering an export ban on dual-use technologies that can be used for both civil or military applications.

Heather Conley, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, believes trans-Atlantic relations could be put to the test again if the United States and Europe don't pull together. "The Americans know that sanctions again Russia will only work if the Europeans take part," she says. "After all, the EU has far greater trade with Russia than the Americans do."

Trans-Atlantic policy expert Janes says that expectations are accordingly high. "People here are following very closely just how prepared EU member states are for sanctions -- especially Germany, which is so strong economically," he says.


Discuss this issue with other readers!
39 total posts
Show all comments
Page 1
Inglenda2 07/22/2014
1. Obama should keep quiet!
A country, which for years has continuously backed criminal governments in the middle East, with money and weapons, has no right to criticise Europe for being careful.
edwards.mikej 07/22/2014
Pretty incredible when the US Neoliberal Empire can't even get its most sycophant of client states to do its bidding. Shame on Germany for bowing to US pressure against its own people.
co.oud 07/22/2014
3. flight MH17
I am Dutch, and I am pissed off. Besides the dog-barking in the media and the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down, it is puzzling that despite the vast U.S. and European intelligence attention concentrated on eastern Ukraine for the past half year, the alleged trucking of several large Buk anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia to Ukraine and then back to Russia hasn't shown up (yet) on surveillance satellite imagery. Also, the MH17 flight went down during the afternoon, while the missile battery was not concealed by darkness. Some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down flight MH17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels. Instead of pressing for such 'details', mainstream media simply pass on the propaganda coming from the Ukrainian government and the U.S. State Department, and hype the fact that the Buk system is Russian-made. Much of what we know now comes from claims made by the Ukrainian regime, which emerged from the unconstitutional CIA-backed coup d’etat against elected President Yanukovych, spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias who have been rewarded with the control over several ministries, including the office of national security that now has neo-Nazi activist Andriy Parubiy, Ukraine's present Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, supervising the defense ministry and the armed forces, as its boss. He led the openly fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian masked thugs who battled riot police in Kiev, followed by a CIA-backed coup. Ukraine has SAM systems in their inventories. Retired Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, the director of the Defense and Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, claims, "It seems unlikely that the self-defense forces could’ve used Buk surface-to-air missile systems to down the Malaysian plane. It takes a lot of training and a lot of coordination to fire one of these and hit something ...This is not the kind of weapon a couple of guys are going to pull out of a garage and fire." According to Ryan, if the plane was taken down, then it was done by a professional military force. During his rounds of appearances on Sunday talk shows on flight MH17, Secretary of State John Kerry did - without the benefit of a formal investigation - what a judge might condemn as “prejudicing the case” or “poisoning the jury pool”. U.S. intelligence analysts sifting through evidence and reaching the conclusion that the Ukrainian army did it, might now shut up, or risk their career. On Aug. 30, 2013, he also claimed to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. I hope the truth will prevail.
mangeder 07/22/2014
4. and vice versa
Europe loses patience with the US because of their hostile spying on "friends and allies". As long as your intelligence agencies cannot distinguish friends from foes, you will have no allies in the world, Mr. President! You cannot snub european countries and later ask them to help and join you, like nothing has happend.
johann84 07/22/2014
And all this happened because the US wants a playground in Russia's garden. The US would benefit the most if the EU would implement sanctions against Russia. High energy prices would make European products uncompetitive against American product meanwhile the US also could sell gas to Europe for the "right" price. It's just hypocrisy ! !
Show all comments
Page 1

All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with permission

Die Homepage wurde aktualisiert. Jetzt aufrufen.
Hinweis nicht mehr anzeigen.