Ukraine: MEPs condemn terrorist acts and say sanctions against Russia must stay
EU sanctions against Russia should stay in place until it changes its aggressive policy in Ukraine, respects the ceasefire, withdraws its troops and stops supporting separatists, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs condemn “acts of terrorism” in Ukraine. urge the EU to come up with a plan to counter the Russian "information war" and help Ukraine to carry out reforms, cope with its humanitarian and health emergency and enhance its defence capabilities.
MEPs strongly condemn Russia's "aggressive and expansionist policy" and "the acts of terrorism and criminal behaviour committed by the separatists and other irregular forces in Eastern Ukraine". They urge the EU Council at its March 2015 meeting to maintain current EU sanctions against Russia and approve “benchmarks” for lifting them. These should include respecting the ceasefire, unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and illegal armed groups, exchanging all prisoners and restoring Ukraine’s control over its whole territory, including Crimea.In the event of further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine, the Council should broaden the range of sanctions to include the nuclear sector and international financial transactions.
Political and diplomatic channels towards Russia must nonetheless stay open, adds the text.
Counter the “information war”
MEPs call on the EU to pay particular attention to the "information war" pursued by Russia and ask the Commission to propose, within two months, a communication strategy to counter the Russian propaganda campaign directed at the EU, its eastern neighbours and Russia itself.
Help with reforms and humanitarian aid
MEPs call on the EU to deliver "more substantial technical assistance", including deploying advisers and experts, to help Ukraine to implement reforms. They note that since the Council lifted the arms embargo on Ukraine on 16 July, there are "no objections" to EU countries supplying defensive arms to Ukraine, and suggest that the EU consider helping Ukraine to enhance its defence capabilities.
The EU should also do more to help tackle the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, including Crimea, say MEPs, citing the plight of internally displaced persons and the health emergency in eastern Ukraine, "with hospitals not fully functioning and a shortage of medicines and vaccines".
MEPs ask the European Commission to present a plan of humanitarian action in Ukraine to the European Parliament within the next two months.