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PM Stubb: Russian border co-operation not under threat

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb says that the European Union’s potential new sanctions list, which is due to be announced at the end of July, will not affect Finland’s border co-operation with Russia. The summit did not, however, make any decisions on appointments to the new EU Commission.

Alexander Stubb. Image: Yle

EU leaders meeting in Brussels have removed border co-operation from a list of contacts with Russia that could be terminated under a new sanctions regime which is reportedly some way short of the mooted 'phase three' sanctions which would hit parts of the Russian economy.

The new measures could be announced at the end of July, and will represent an attempt to step up pressure on Russia. Up to now sanctions have focused on individuals. The move to exclude border co-operation from the new list  is a win for Finland, which under new premier Alexander Stubb had prioritised retention of smooth border crossing procedures.

“It could be that in the future certain programmes are dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” said Stubb after the summit.

The heads of government had been meeting to discuss possible broader sanctions on Russia over its actions around the Ukraine crisis. Stubb said that individuals directly linked to Russia’s takeover of Crimea could now be targeted by the new sanctions.

A Reuters report overnight said that EU leaders will also focus on financing for Russian companies and public sector projects, with investment banks and the EU-owned European Bank for Reconstruction and Development a particular target.

The Financial Times reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that it has a copy of the draft summit communique, and that the proposed sanctions are an 'intentional blurring' of phase two sanctions, which target individuals, and phase three sanctions, which would hit whole sectors of the Russian economy.

The special, unscheduled summit had been expected to discuss appointments to the new EU Commission due to take office this November. Stubb said after the meeting that discussions on the new head of the European Council, the foreign policy representative and the chair of the Eurogroup would now continue in August.