01:55 GMT12 August 2020
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    The issue of anti-Russian sanctions has divided the European Union. Many politicians and economists are now calling for their withdrawal and the visit of European delegates to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is an important signal, that "might melt the ice" in EU-Russia relations, Die Presse wrote.

    Dissatisfaction with anti-Russian sanctions in the EU is growing, the Austrian newspaper noted.

    For Europe, it is becoming increasingly difficult to choose between the "principles of loyalty" and "pragmatic dialogue" with Moscow, the article said.

    "The EU is more divided than ever. While the Balts or Poland advocate for a hard line, Italy, France and Hungary are stepping back," the newspaper wrote.

    Last week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on EU leaders to abandon the principle of "all or nothing" and seek constructive dialogue with Moscow. This means that the progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreement might be encouraged by the partial lifting of restrictive measures.

    German entrepreneurs have long advocated for the withdrawal of the anti-Russian sanctions as they have had negative impact on the German economy.

    The EU and the US imposed the sanctions in 2014 amid Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Russia denied the allegations and introduced a one-year food embargo in August 2014 on products originating from states that imposed the restrictive measure.

    According to the newspaper, the visit of European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is an important signal of a potential reconciliation between Russia and Europe, the newspaper noted.

    The forum will be held on June 16-18. The event is organized annually and attended by business representatives and officials from dozens of countries.

    The newspaper's article caused vivid debates among Internet users. Many of them criticized anti-Russian sanctions and called on Europe to abandon its dependence on the US.

    "While the US will continue to increase its trade with Russia, the EU, as we know, thanks to Vice President Biden, will be further obliged to maintain sanctions," wrote a reader under nickname fellbe. "If the EU policy would have followed any human principles, then we would not operate trade with the US for a long time".

    Another internet user also slammed European countries for supporting US policies and claimed that European politicians are under the control of US intelligence services.

    "Europe is indeed being guarded by Germany and in Germany there are 58,000 US troops, every German politician is constantly monitored by US intelligence, including the Chancellor […] Germany is therefore a de facto US-dominion controlled directly from US- State Department," a man named Gerhard Pils wrote.


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