13:41 Jun. 10, 2016
Restrictions are highly probable to be prolonged despite signs of mood towards Moscow
Diplomats had feared the move would spark a major political battle between states such as Hungary, Greece and Italy, which favour a rethink on sanctions, and the more hawkish states, including Poland and the Baltic countries, which want the regime to continue, The Financial Times reports.
But officials in Brussels say the diplomatic path for the decision, which could come within the next fortnight, has been cleared after the more dovish states postponed their demands for a big rethink on the sanctions until a summit of EU leaders set for December. However, some countries are considering whether to send a political signal to Moscow at the same time, hinting that Europe's sanctions policy is nearing a turning point, said one senior diplomat involved in the talks, without giving further details.
One senior official with reservations over sanctions said: "Sooner or later we need a deep and detailed discussion on the Russia sanctions, but I expect the December [summit] will be the right moment for this."
Rolling the sanctions over will demonstrate the uneasy unity within the bloc on a potentially divisive issue. But the move comes amid growing signs of a changing political mood, with some EU leaders showing readiness to deal with Moscow on a series of economic as well as unrelated political issues.
While there is still a discussion over whether the final decision will be taken at a summit of EU leaders in late June, officials say there is little doubt the sanctions, which are due to expire on July 31, will be prolonged for six months.
Reported by UNIAN