There is a need for dialogue, negotiation and co-operation between the EU and Russia. There is always a case to be made that an actor can achieve greater total benefits from cooperative efforts over being actively hostile. Prioritizing diplomatic means in the interest of both sides is the most advantageous long-term choice.

Three broad arenas of positive diplomacy alternatives exist where the EU can make policy changes:

  1.  the resumption of EU bilateral and regional cooperation programs with Russia,
  2.  increased bilateral negotiations between Russia and relevant European nations,
  3. gradually lifting economic sanctions and restrictive measures (at each stage of threat normalization) to re-stabilize the negotiation table.

EU restrictive measures in response to the crisis in Ukraine

Diplomatic measures

The EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU Member States decided not to hold regular bilateral summits. Bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the New Agreement between the EU and Russia were suspended.

EU countries also supported the suspension of negotiations over Russia's joining the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the International Energy Agency.

Individual restrictive measures

Asset freeze and travel restrictions

150 people and 37 entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban over their responsibility for actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. On 13 March 2017, the Council prolonged these measures until 15 September 2017

Restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol

As a consequence of the EU's non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the Council imposed substantial restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol.

These measures include an import ban on goods from Crimea and Sevastopol, imposed in June 2014, as well as restrictions introduced in July 2014 on trade and investment related to certain economic sectors and infrastructure projects. 

In addition, a full ban on investment has been in place since December 2014, along with a prohibition to supply tourism services in Crimea. Exports of further key goods for certain sectors are also banned, including equipment for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources.

On 17 June 2016, the Council extended these measures until 23 June 2017.

'Economic sanctions': measures targeting exchanges with Russia in specific economic sectors

In July and September 2014, the EU imposed economic sanctions targeting exchanges with Russia in specific economic sectors.

In March 2015, EU leaders decided to align the existing sanctions regime to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was foreseen for the end of December 2015. Since this did not happen, the Council extended economic sanctions until 31 July 2016.

The economic sanctions were prolonged for 6 months successively on 1 July 2016,  19 December 2016, and on 28 June 2017, each time following  an assessment of the Minsk agreements implementation. The economic sanctions are currently extended until 31 January 2018.

These restrictive measures:

  • limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for 5 major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defence companies
  • impose an export and import ban on trade in arms
  • establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia
  • curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services  that can be used for oil production and exploration

Measures concerning economic cooperation

Restrictions on economic cooperation were introduced by EU leaders in July 2014:  

  • the EIB was requested to suspend the signature of new financing operations in the Russian Federation 
  • EU member states agreed to coordinate their positions within the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Board of Directors with a view to also suspend the financing of new operations
  • the implementation of EU bilateral and regional cooperation programmes with Russia was re-assessed and certain programmes suspended


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