EU Seeks to End Russia / Ukraine Conflict

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( — April 23, 2015)  — Rome, Italy – The Ukraine conflict is one of the top European headaches, especially since it impacts the Eurozone’s relations with Russia, said Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Her remarks are reported in an interview published by Italy’s “la Repubblica” newspaper.

Moghreini emphasized that EU policy of dealing with the crisis is not different than US goals. She said that Western powers want to end this confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

“On the one hand, we should strengthen our support for Ukraine, where the internal economic situation could very quickly become very serious. And, on the other hand, we should begin a direct debate with Moscow on our relations and the role Russia could play in other scenarios of the crisis,” Mogherini said.

“Even in Kiev everyone asks the question of how the conflict could be brought to an end,” the official added, saying that the situation is “very difficult for Russia.” She added that it is in Moscow’s interest to “cooperate.”

At the same time, Mogherini rejected the idea that the EU’s position on the crisis differs from that of the US.

“It is not true that there is a soft Europe stance, which opposes the US hardline position. On the contrary, the latest data shows that trade between Russia and Europe is declining, while trade between Russia and the US is increasing,” Russia Today quoted.

Meanwhile, Austrian President Heinz Fischer warned against intensifying sanctions against Russia, calling the move “unwise and harmful” in an interview to Wirtschaftsblatt newspaper.

“I support those who say that we have reached a stage where…the imposition of new sanctions against Russia will continue to hinder its development, but will not bring us closer to an amicable solution,” Fischer said.

According to Fischer, a serious crisis in Russia and an economic collapse would only create more problems. “The doors between Europe and Russia must remain open in the economic field,” he stressed.

The Austrian leader stressed an over-looked detail; the EU overestimated the appeal of the free trade deal which forced Ukraine to choose between Europe and Russia.

“Brussels apparently overestimated the attractiveness of European Association Agreement compared to the other option for Ukraine – namely the offer from Russia,” he said. “It was recognized only at the last moment that it was a real ordeal for Ukraine to choose between EU offer and the billions offered by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, which was better suited for the realities faced by Ukraine in the fall of 2013.”

Ukraine needs to be free to build its own relationships with both Europe and Russia, Fischer concluded.