A Who’s Who Guide to EU Sanctions on Russia

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Europe’s leaders have so far managed to remain united over the Ukraine crisis. On March 17, they even managed to agree to impose a first set of sanctions on Russia.

But behind the scenes, there are now big divisions among EU member states on whether to introduce further targeted sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

In the South, countries are still deeply preoccupied by the economic crisis. They are far from enthusiastic about the possibility of slapping on additional measures that might harm them too. Cyprus’s reluctance is linked to its status as a lucrative parking place for Russian money. Italy under former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi grew very close to Russia. Berlusconi is gone, of course, but Italy still has strong business ties to Russia through its energy group ENI.

Geography and religion play a big role, too. Spain’s foreign policy priorities are North Africa and the Middle East. Orthodox Christian Greece, by tradition, has close ties to Russia, especially with regard to trade and energy.

As for Western Europeans, Britain dreads tougher sanctions because of the impact they would have on London as a financial center. France worries about the consequences for defense contracts. The Netherlands has close links to Russian energy giant Gazprom, especially through its distribution network.

Germany’s influential industry lobbies are completely against sanctions. The country’s political elite is divided, not just for economic reasons but also because of a sense of history and shared ties. Despite that, German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems determined to impose another round of sanctions, as she made clear during a speech to the parliament on March 20.

Eastern Europeans aren’t united, either. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who recently signed a major nuclear energy contract with Russia, has played down the entire Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In contrast, the Baltic states are so afraid of their giant neighbor’s appetite that they are taking a tough line despite a total dependence on Russian gas.

The table below presents a rough-and-ready Who’s Who of the 28 EU member states and their attitudes toward tougher sanctions on Russia. It also shows the percentage of each country’s natural gas consumption that comes from Russian imports.

Country Support for tougher sanctions on Russia % of total gas consumption from Russian imports*
Austria Reluctant 52
Belgium Supportive 43
Bulgaria Supportive, but big differences among parties 100
Croatia Reluctant 37
Cyprus Very reluctant 0
Czech Republic Reluctant but will support 80
Denmark Supportive 0
Estonia Supportive 100
Finland Reluctant 100
France Reluctant 17
Germany Reluctant but will support 40
Greece Very reluctant 55
Hungary Very reluctant 50
Ireland Supportive 0
Italy Reluctant 20
Latvia Supportive 100
Lithuania Supportive 100
Luxembourg Supportive 28
Malta Reluctant 0
The Netherlands Reluctant 6
Poland Supportive 52
Portugal Reluctant 0
Romania Supportive 24
Slovakia Reluctant but will support 63
Slovenia Reluctant but will support 57
Spain Reluctant 0
Sweden Supportive 100
United Kingdom Reluctant 0


Sources: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013, Eurogas, Eurostat.

* Note: The percentage of gas that member states import from Russia is distinct from the percentage that gas accounts for in their overall energy consumption.



Comments (10)

  • Lawless Latvia
    It is strange to cite Latvia as 'supportive' of sanctions since Latvia hosts a circle of offshore Russian and Ukrainian banks which have been caught again and again in money laundering scandals. I recommend the LawlessLatvia website for information.
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    • mike3652 replies...
      Well, I guess, Latvia remebers what it means to live next door to Russian dictator regime. They know it can cost them much more than gas.
  • Oxphos
    Do we really hope that prosperity will flourish in a world in which fundamental rights are disregarded?

    Why do nations sign agreements which they do not maintain? With which authority do we ask Iran to refrain from developing its nuclear capacity, let alone the atom bomb?

    Have we really learned nothing from recent history?
    Should not exactly be Europe to give a good example?
    Do we, yet again, need the help of USA? (Or better: does USA have to do again the ‘dirty’ job because we Europeans have too many economic interests?)
    Has Germany really learned nothing?

    Today Ukraine and tomorrow what?
    Perhaps will Germany take a little piece (just a little!) of the Netherlands or Austria or Switzerland? I mean: how many Germans should indeed be ‘protected’ there!
    Or The Netherlands of Belgium? U.K. of France? Bosnia of Croatia?
    Why should Austria not claim back Südtirol? Northern Italy become an independent state? Or Morocco take over Ceuta and Melilla? They are so small…

    Because we sign agreements or because we are the European Union will these things never happen? :-)
    Why not? As long as a country is militarily strong...

    There is no respect for you without you respecting others.

    NOW is the moment to show on which side we are.
    The sides are not Russia or Europe or USA.
    The side is the respect of fundamental rights, everywhere.

    There will be no true prosperity in a world in which fundamental rights are disregarded.

    WAKE UP European leaders!
    Putin is acclaimed in Russia as a hero. For what should we, European citizens, acclaim you, European leaders?
    European citizens need human examples of action, not rhetoric.
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    • Alex (Portugal) replies...
      I totally agree with your point of view.
  • walterasgbenjamin
    I suggest a very simple and cheap action that all the Western countries could take against these Russians.

    During the Cold War, when you want to entry to USA, you needed to sign that you are not a member of a Communist Party.

    What I propose is simple: for all the Russians who are and who want to go to any of the Western countries - plus Japan - they need to sign on their visa application put on their passport that as Russian citizen they recognise that Crimea is part of Ukraine and that they respect the 1994 agreement to preserve the integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine.

    For each Russian who is refusing to sign, he will be forbidden to stay or to come in the Western countries and will have all his assets seized - including real estates, bank accounts etc .

    The same for all Russian companies and Russian institutions ( including Orthodox Russian Church but also all the scientific and cultural Russian organisations who are working with any counterparts in the West.
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    • VoiceOfReason replies...
      That's absurd. You're punishing normal people who had nothing to do with the decisions and actions from taking holidays, visiting friends, studying abroad, working internationally?? Why not suggest that food should be withheld from north korean citizens as punishment for their government. Seriously..
      Hurting normal people would not help anyone.
  • fabio
    Leave CRIMEA alone its ppl has spoken... stop this nonsense there was NO aggression... and stop the rhetoric on "who is next?" (reminding of Hitler's policy) that has nothing to do here... besides we d encourage Russia into the EU. Finally anybody is free to do its own revolution and pay the consequences.   
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  • Gas numbers
    Sweden is 100% dependent for its limited gas imports not on Russia, but on Denmark. (That said, the actual gas may well nowadays come through North Stream and Germany rather than from the Danish North Sea fields, but Sweden's only import pipeline comes from the west).
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  • Catherine Kelleher
    Swedish dependence figure is wrong--Should be ), according to what others have told me
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  • JC
    Another column needs to be added to the table above stating how much of a state's total energy consumption comes from Russian gas. While Sweden might get 100% of its gas from Russia, gas is a relatively small proportion of their overall energy consumption.
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