Germany to step up sanctions against Russia’s crimes in Syria

Germany to step un sanctions against Russia's crimes in Syria
The German chancellor Angela Merkel

The German chancellor Angela Merkel wants to get other European Union member countries to agree to step up sanctions against Russia because of its role in the war in Syria, a German newspaper reported.

The issue of sanctions is due to be discussed at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday. Both the EU and the United States have already imposed economic and other sanctions on Russia for its seizure of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and for its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung cited the sources as saying it was proving hard to get the agreement of the Social Democrats – the junior partner to Merkel’s conservatives in Germany’s ruling coalition – and other EU countries on tougher measures, but that “resentment towards the Russians has increased”.

The attack on a U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy in Syria last month and Russia’s actions in Aleppo have contributed to that, the newspaper cited the sources as saying.

Merkel urged Russia previously to use its influence with the Syrian government to end the devastating bombardment of Aleppo

“Russia has a lot of influence on Assad. We must end these atrocious crimes,” Merkel said on 7 October. She did not address sanctions directly, but said the international community needed to do all it could to bring about a halt in the fighting and get supplies to civilians.

Norbert Roettgen, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German parliament, also called for new sanctions against Russia over its role in the bombardment of Syria.

His comments to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung came two days after another CDU member and member of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, urged the EU to impose new sanctions against Russia.

“A lack of consequences and sanctions for the most serious war crimes would be a scandal,” Roettgen said.

The EU has sanctions in place against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. Italy and some other EU states have said these should be eased, but the prospects for any relaxation of those sanctions had dimmed, given the crisis in Syria.

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.