President Obama and European leaders discuss future of Russia Sanctions in Berlin
On his last round of foreign trips, President Obama arrived in Berlin on Wednesday evening after visiting Greece.
One of the topics to be discussed between European leaders and President Obama is the continuation of EU and U.S. Russia related sanctions. There is some urgency for these discussions, given that the EU trade restrictions must be extended in January 2017.
Further, European leaders are worried, given President-Elect Trump’s remarks to re-engage with Russia, whether U.S. sanctions against Russia will be uplifted by Donald Trump. European leaders and President Barack Obama are set to discuss this issue and Syria this coming Friday.
The meeting in Berlin, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and including the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Spain, comes a little over a week after Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election. In this context, the meeting could also symbolize the EU’s willingness to send a signal to President-Elect Trump, whereby it may be more difficult for the U.S. to reverse it’s policy towards Russia.
An interesting issue will be to see what President Putin will do before Donald Trump is sworn in as the next U.S. President on 20 January 2017.
One possibility is that military operations are intensified in Syria and Ukraine to increase Russia’s bargaining position with a new, and probably more hawkish, U.S. President.
The Syrian opposition, some of who will meet European leaders this Friday, have been pressing the West to expand sanctions to include some Russian firms that are supplying weapons and financial support to Syria.