by Reissa Su, The Balkan Chronicle

MOSCOW, January 17, 2015 (TSR) – Seven countries in the European Union want to support the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West on Russia. Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Hungary and Slovakia are reportedly in agreement on the matter.

A diplomatic source in Brussels close to the EU Council told TASS that the sanctions the foreign ministers of the 28 member countries in the EU would not make decisions regarding the sanctions against Russia in their first meeting on Jan. 19. The European diplomatic source said Russia will be on the agenda of the meeting but the decision on whether or not the sanctions should be cancelled or renewed will be discussed in March.

The source believes the decision may be leaning towards a “softening” of sanctions. The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that the EU was ready to soften the sanctions imposed on Russia. The information was based on a document prepared by the EU foreign policy service. The EU is reportedly in favour of a partial normalisation of relations with Moscow if Russian President Vladimir Putin changes his stance on the Ukraine crisis.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has been urging Russia to withdraw its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and use its influence to make the rebels honour the cease-fire agreement. In a news conference in Berlin, Stoltenberg said together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Russia is encouraged to exert its influence on separatists to respect the ceasefire agreement.

Stoltenberg added that NATO wants renewed cooperation with Russia but the relationship between the alliance and Moscow should first improve. He said NATO is not seeking a confrontation with Russia as the alliance is interested in building a “constructive and cooperative relationship.”

Putin “not invited” to G7

As long as Russia is isolated from the West, Mr Putin has “no chance” of being invited in the next meeting of G7 leaders. Merkel, who will host the G7 summit, said the G7 and the former G8 group is a “community of values” and the annexation of Crimea including the conflict in eastern Ukraine are considered serious violations of these values.

Merkel declared that there was no chance as of the moment for Mr Putin to be invited in the G7 summit, Reuters reported. She said the fate of the sanctions imposed on Russia will be discussed further in the spring but they still remain in place given the current situation.

U.S. and UK to face Russian aggression

Meanwhile, in an op-ed article published in a British newspaper, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have declared their commitment and “enduring mission” to fight the growing terror threats and stand up to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The two Western leaders said they will face Russia’s aggressive stance in Ukraine since the failure to challenge Moscow may lead to instability as Mr Putin continues to ignore international law.

Mr Obama and Mr Cameron have also pledged to defend freedom and confront terrorists like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram who try to justify their acts of violence with ideology. The two leaders are expected to meet in the White House to discuss more on the global issues including economic growth.


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