Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he arrives for a meeting with businessmen on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi, Russia, May 20, 2016. Host photo agency via REUTERS/File Photo
Reuters: Putin steps up drive to kill sanctions amid signs of EU disunity
Vladimir Putin will step up Russia's campaign to end European Union sanctions with a visit to Slovenia on Saturday, encouraged by signs his tactic of lobbying what he views as more pliant southern and eastern European states is starting to pay off.
The sanctions, imposed over the Ukraine crisis, are designed to block access to Western credit and technology for people and businesses linked to President Putin. Combined with American and Group of Seven sanctions, they have made it harder for Russia to weather an economic crisis fueled by low oil prices.
The EU earlier this month extended economic sanctions on Russia until the start of 2017, despite misgivings from some countries such as Slovakia who are keen to debate their effectiveness.
Several Moscow-based EU diplomats say Russia's tactic of methodically lobbying southern and eastern EU member states is starting to seriously erode the bloc's unity on the issue, making it potentially harder to renew them next time.
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WNU Editor: Russia's next Presidential election is March, 2018, and while Russian sanctions will still be in place because of Russia's refusal to talk about Crimea, the Kremlin's focus is to have at least some of the more stringent sanctions removed by the end of 2017 so that Putin can then run on this policy success in the next election. My prediction .... he may get what he wants .... many European countries want to move on and focus on other issues, and sanctions on Russia is becoming a lesser concern to them as the EU migrant crisis/the rise of terrorism/and Brexit become more pressing concerns.