Many of the smaller economies among the twenty eight EU members have been hit hard by the economic sanctions the USA's Obama Administration bullied the EU into imposing on Russia after Putin annexed Crimea to protect its ethnic Russian majority when the neo Nazi regime imposed on Ukraine after the US engineered coup d'etat deposed the democractically elected government. As with most US regime change scams, the exercise was a lot less than 100% successful, though Moscow moved quickly to prevent ethnic cleansing by the government in Kiev, the country split with the Russian dominated Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east unilaterally declaring independence.
Civil war had raged in Ukraine since then.
While the sanctions are having little effect on Russia, EU states are keen to end anti-Russian sanctions but are aware that even if EU sanctions end the USA will continue to exert its influence on European businesses, as it did in the case of sanctions against Iran, the German business weekley Wirtschafts Woche reported recently.
The EU is due to reassess the sanctions at its next summit in June with many national leaders hoping the result will lead to the EU repairing relations with Russia and distancing itself from the warmongers in Washington. However should the EU end sanctions there is a string possibility that the US will take unilateral action to stop EU businesses from trading with Russia, Wirtschafts Woche reported.
According to a survey of German enterprises conducted by the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, 60 percent of businesses want an immediate end to sanctions, and 28 percent are in favor of their gradual removal. The newspaper refers to statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that anti-Russian sanctions will be lifted only in accordance with the Minsk Agreements on limiting hostilities in Ukraine pending a negotiated settlement of the civil conflict, that were signed by the Trilateral Contact Group, comprising Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE in February 2015 – which Russia has abided by. The Minsk deal was brokerd by Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Francoise Hollande.
On Tuesday (19 April) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and restated Russia's concern that the Ukrainian government is not implementing the Minsk Agreements.
At a press conference tat followed the meeting, Ayrault called on Kiev to carry out constitutional reforms outlined in the agreement. Due to be implemented by the end of 2015, these would give greater autonomy to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Wirtschafts Woche wrote that even if the German Chancellor listens to EU members such as Hungary, Greece, Italy and Austria and removes sanctions, the EU will still face opposition from the US.
"Even if we dump our EU sanctions, the Americans will enforce their sanctions beyond their own territory," one German banker told the newspaper. He referred to the case of anti-Iran sanctions, when anybody who operated counter to US sanctions faced potential penalties in the US.
"Fearing for their American business, non-US companies followed the orders on Iran," Wirtschafts Woche reported.
"And because Washington will maintain sanctions against Russia, the Americans can indirectly dictate a stricter policy on Russia – irrespective of whether the Europeans want it," the newspaper concluded.