17 Mar 2017, 45 mins ago

The Minister of Economy in Saxony-Anhalt, Jörg Felgner, has called for the withdrawal of EU sanctions against Russia. The politician has called on other German federal states in the east of the country to join him in publically opposing the restrictive measures.

Felgner claims that the sanctions are damaging Saxony-Anhalt’s economy with exports to Russia substantially reduced. He believes that lifting the economic sanctions will provide a consequential boost to the German economy. Felgner commented, with reference to the Cuban experience, that economic sanctions “usually don’t bring much result”.

The Council of the EU imposed the sanctions that Felgner criticised in July 2014 in direct response to the annexation of Crimea. The EU had previously imposed sanctions against several members and associates of the government of Victor Yanukovych in March 2014. The July sanctions were reinforced in September 2014 and renewed again for 12 months in July 2015.

In addition to targeted restrictive measures (including asset freezes and travel bans) against 149 persons and 37 entities, there are specific restrictions against economic dealings with Crimea and Sevastopol. Beyond this, the EU has imposed sectoral economic sanctions. EU nationals and companies may not buy or sell new bonds, equity or similar financial instruments with a maturity exceeding 30 days, issued by five major state-owned Russian banks, three major Russian energy companies, three major Russian defence companies and subsidiaries outside the EU of the entities above, and those acting on their behalf or at their direction.

In response to these sanctions Russia has introduced a food import ban currently in force until late-August 2016.

In March 2015 the European Council indicated that the duration of these sanctions is tied to the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreement (an agreement to halt the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine). Despite being agreed in February 2015 several aspects of the Minsk agreement remain unfulfilled.

Gherson is currently acting for 4 out of 15 individuals who remain targeted as a result of the earlier EU sanctions against former members and associates of the former regime. In February 2016 we secured the annulment of restrictive measures for one individual in respect of the 2014 measures.