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Rebutting controversy, EU foreign policy chief says Europe is united on Russia

January 22nd, 2015
10:46 AM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The EU will stand united in keeping up its pressure on Moscow, the EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“The main point that is surprising and probably also affecting the Russian leadership is our unity, the impossibility to divide us, and I count on us to stay united.”

Mogherini told Amanpour that while “it would be naive and probably stupid to say that there are no differences among Europeans,” they’ve “managed, over the last year, to keep united and take all our decisions by unanimity, because we know that our decisions are not linked to single member states' interests, but they are linked to a principle that we cannot accept the violation of international rules. This is the basic core principle of the European Union.”

Mogherini, who took up the lead role in November, came under fire this week after a paper she circulated was widely seen as a suggestion to ease sanctions on Russia.

“There's a lot of misleading interpretations about that paper. That paper that was leaked, unfortunately, was intended and still intended to be a paper for having discussions with questions.”

“That was asked by ministers, that was agreed with President Tusk, with President Juncker, to look not at revising our sanctions policy but mainly at viewing at what else we can put on the table of the diplomatic efforts of the international community to bring the Ukrainian crisis to an end.”

The Russian economy contracted for the first time in November since 2009, and the ruble hit an all-time low of 80 per dollar in mid-December.

“Economic sanctions are working on an economic plan. [The] Russian economy is suffering and Russian people are suffering out of this changes in Russian economy.”

“What does not change is Russian behavior on the ground. And we have contradictive signs. The public declarations from the Russian leadership, one day, say that the Minsk agreement is still the point of reference and they are committed to implement it.”

“I would say that what we have to increase is the political and diplomatic pressure on Russia.”

Kiev accused Russia on Monday of sending additional troops across the border into Ukraine, and the recent escalation of violence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has compromised the ceasefire agreed in September.

“So not only the situation on the east of Ukraine is going to be important to monitor what we do with our sanctions policy, but also the annexation of Crimea is going to stay as the basic, the non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea is going to stay as the basic principle for us to keep our sanctions on Russia.”

As Europe prepares to unveil new counter-terrorism measures, Amanpour asked Mogherini whether the European Parliament will be persuaded to implement a U.S.-style Passenger Name Record, which would allow authorities to keep a database of all travelers.

“I hope so. I've been in the European parliament last week as it has been President Tusk and President Juncker passing a message that we really need these measures to become European measures as well.”

“The sharing of information obviously respecting privacy, finding the right ways doing that, but it's crucial because we are on the same problematic line which is that of either we trust each other and share information, or we will always face a lack in our response to the security threat we have internally.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • European Union • Eurozone • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine
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