German officials say an EU summit planned for this week will focus on the “second phase” of sanctions to be imposed against Russia, expected to include more travel bans, more asset freezes, and broad trade restrictions. The “third phase” isn’t planned yet but won’t be ruled out either.
The EU imposed its first phase of sanctions against Russia on Monday, but after the Russian government mocked them, many hawks have been pushing to get new ones in place fast. There is considerable resistance from several nations, led by Austria, who fear the sanctions will hurt the EU more than Russia.
Russia doesn’t seem to be sweating the possibility of more sanctions at any rate, with a spokesman for President Putin saying that “the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side.”
That might well be the case, as Russia’s exports to the EU are largely oil and gas, and there are no shortage of customers for that around the world. Russia has already been keen to pick up its trade with China and this may accelerate the process.
By contrast Austria’s fears seem entirely justified, as it will be much easier for Russia to find other buyers for their oil and gas, but the EU may struggle to find other convenient suppliers, especially with Libya and Syria both producing next to nothing because of unrest.