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'We cannot merely look on'

Nikita Jolkver / sad January 23, 2014

In light of the recent escalation in Kyiv, the German government's Russia relations coordinator, Andreas Schockenhoff, has suggested imposing sanctions against those responsible for the violent crackdown.

Dr. Andreas Schockenhoff
Image: DW/A. Brenner

DW: What's your opinion of the escalation in Kyiv?

Andreas Schockenhoff: It's a very dangerous escalation, I encourage all involved to stand down from violence. President Yanukovych carries a large part of the responsibility here, including through intensified policing measures he allowed last week. He should retract these, as well as being personally ready to meet with opposition representatives and come to a solution that allows all sides to work together.

Should the West or Europe do anything, or just look on?

No, we cannot merely look on. We have to provide Ukraine with a clear view of the European position. The offer of an association agreement remains on the table. But beyond that, Ukraine has the prospect of integrating itself into Europe, not only economically, but also through developing a transparent, constitutional and democratic system.

Sanctions are being considered among your ranks. What could such sanctions look like?

They must come with the offer of genuine, increasingly closer cooperation. Sanctions by themselves don't help, but also the offer of cooperation can't be an empty promise, even if it has been ruled out. Thus, a two-pronged approach.

If this administration says it wants to work with Europe but isn't prepared to actually do this, then there must be sanctions against those who are responsible for excessive violence - for clear law-breaking - against demonstrators. And then, consequences for the free movement of certain individuals must be considered. Consideration must also be given to whether individual EU-funded projects can still be carried out with a regime that continues to distance itself from Europe.

So, travel restrictions and economic freezes?

Yes, but as I said: accompanied by a clear offer of even closer cooperation, if the regime desists in its policies of escalation. The government has to stand down from repression. For this reason, we also have to see that Moscow doesn't accuse the EU of influencing Ukraine. Rather, Moscow must see this offer of cooperation as an offer not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia - not as a zero-sum game, rather as implementing strengthened economic and political integration. Moscow must also stop threatening economic punishment for Ukrainian alignment toward Europe. Because stabilization won't occur in such a situation, which ultimately presents no advantage to Moscow.

Andreas Schockenhoff coordinates Russia relations for the Christian Democratic Union in the German government's ruling coalition.