Hollande breaks EU ranks by seeking softer line on sanctions

SHAFAQNA – Europe imposed a ban on almost all business with Crimea yesterday but cracks appeared in the EU’s firm line, with France telling leaders to consider dismantling the sanctions regime. First, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, insisted that sanctions must remain in force until they achieved their aim.

Then, President Hollande of France said that if Russia “sends the signals we expect, then there is no need for new sanctions”. He was immediately contradicted by David Cameron, who insisted that the EU had to “stand firm” on the sanctions.

France’s softer line reflected concern over the country’s heavy investment in Russia, led by the Renault and Danone companies, and by the desire to deliver two large warships that have been built for Russia by French shipyards.

Delivery of the first of the Mistral class command and assault ships has been suspended because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

EU leaders were concerned over the danger of contagion spreading from Russia’s economic turmoil, but Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said that President Putin and the Russian leadership should “reflect seriously about the need to introduce a radical change in attitude towards the rest of the world, and switch to a cooperative mode.”

Source : thetimes.co.uk

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