07:42 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Brussels Should Abandon 'Absurd Anti-Russian Sanctions', Re-Connect With Moscow

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    The EU should start restoring its close, constructive dialogue with Moscow; first of all abandoning its "absurd" anti-Russian sanctions, Italian MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo told the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

    In an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, a Member of the European Parliament, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, urged the EU to start resuscitating its constructive relations with Moscow. This would begin with the scrapping of the "absurd" sanctions against Russia.

    The interview came shortly after US Vice President Joe Biden said that at least five EU countries are ready to lift the anti-Russian sanctions as soon as possible.

    Although he declined to elaborate, it is safe to assume that the list will include Italy and France, according to Izvestia.

    Casraldo, for his part, said that "we are deeply convinced that the EU should rethink its foreign policy by focusing on restoring its close and constructive dialogue with Russia."

    "First and foremost, Brussels should abandon its absurd anti-Russian sanctions, which are not just useless from a political point of view, but also damage [the market for] Italian exports," he said.

    "The EU and Russia, as immediate neighbors, should cooperate constructively in the interest of their citizens," Castaldo said, pledging "to continue to work in this direction."

    Some French representatives are also calling for the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. Earlier, France's lower house of parliament voted in favor of a resolution stipulating the abolition of economic restrictions against Russia.

    In an interview with Izvestia, French MP Thierry Mariani said that this position was dictated by Ukraine's reluctance to stick to the Minsk-2 peace agreements.

    "The Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) has failed to implement any reforms in line with the Minsk-2 peace agreements, which is why we stand for the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions," he said.

    In addition, a number of other countries, including Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Cyprus called for the abolition or easing of the sanctions, but this is not the case with the US and its Asian allies.

    Meanwhile, Slovakian Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Stano told Izvestia about the EU's tendency related to a permanent discussion of the problem of anti-Russian sanctions and ways to break the deadlock.

    "As an EU neighbor, Russia is one of the largest trade and investment partners of the EU, as well as an active player in the international arena. So Slovakia consistently calls for a direct diplomatic dialogue with Moscow aimed at an intensive search for mutually acceptable solutions to topical issues of regional and global agenda," he said.

    Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York earlier this week, Biden, for his part, said that Ukraine should hasten its implementation of the political and economic reforms it had promised to carry out, because some EU member states are seeking ways to suspend sanctions imposed on Russia.

    "We know that if they give an excuse to the EU, there are at least five countries right now that want to say ‘We want out’," he said referring the sanctions against Russia. 

    The United States, the European Union and some of their allies have imposed several rounds of restrictive anti-Moscow sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, as well as a number of individuals and entities, over Crimea's reunification with Russia and Moscow's alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, which started as Kiev launched a military operation in the country's eastern regions in April 2014.

    Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability. In response to the restrictive measures, Russia has imposed a food embargo on some products originating in countries that have targeted it.

    In July 2016, the EU Council prolonged the anti-Russian sanctions until January 31, 2017, and Russia responded by extending its counter-sanctions until December 31, 2017.

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