Putin on the Brakes

EU Sanctions are Set to Expire—Here's What to Do Now

A boy sits on a swing near his building, which was damaged during fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists, as an armored personnel carrier of the Ukrainian armed forces drives by, June 7, 2015. Gleb Garanich / Reuters

The conflict in Ukraine might reach a turning point this summer as EU sanctions against Russia near their expiration date and the “Minsk II” ceasefire in eastern Ukraine comes under increasing strain. Russian troops are reportedly massing near Ukraine’s borders, and observers are documenting up to 80 daily ceasefire violations, including a separatist offensive last week. Ukrainian leaders are bracing for intensified violence in the weeks ahead when, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, “the chances of a new [Russian] offensive are very, very high.”

The EU Council is scheduled to hold a meeting in late June to consider extending its “sectoral sanctions” on Russia, those targeting energy, defense, and financial firms, before they expire on July 31. If just a single EU nation objects to the renewal—and several, including Greece and Hungary, have expressed hesitation—then the entire sanctions regime may collapse. It would force the United States,

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