After rebels in the Ukraine shelled the city of Mariupol, killing 30 last week, the European Union has been in discussions to renew sanctions against Russia prior to their expiration. Russia was implicitly held responsible for the behavior of Ukrainian rebels, who broke a 5 month ceasefire.
The EU extended sanctions against Russia by an additional 6 months, including travel bans and freezing the assets of certain individuals, but stopped short of applying more aggressive, punitive measures generally against the Russian populace.
There were some concerned in Europe that after the election of the far left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who said he was not consulted about renewing sanctions, Greece would attempt to derail any plans to extend the deadline on sanctions. However, Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias was generally cooperative. Greece was not alone in asking for a delay to sanctions, but Italy and Austria expressed similar sentiments. Kotzias declared “I am not a Russian puppet, ” according to Reuters.
EU Foreign Policy chief, Frederica Mogherini met with Kotzias who was amenable to signing the agreement. “We are not against every sanction, ” said Kotzias. “We are in the mainstream. We are not the bad boy.” Mogherini spoke glowingly about Kotzias’ cooperation, and said the Greek foreign ministers, “attitude was very constructive, ” and the meeting, ” was an extremely positive exercise.” The Wall Street journal reports Mogherini said, “Of one thing I can be happy tonight, and that is that we have kept our unity which is, as I have always said, our strength.”