The Italian government blocked a Crimean lawmaker being added to the EU’s Russia sanctions list, according to three diplomats.
On Wednesday, the Council of the EU’s Working Party of Foreign Relations Counselors (known as RELEX) agreed to roll over sanctions against Russian citizens and companies “over actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity” for six months, until 15 March 2019.
It’s one of four sets of sanctions that the EU imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and consists of asset freezes and travel restrictions. These measures apply to 155 people and 44 entities.
“Countries like the U.K. and the Baltics wanted to make the list longer,” said a senior diplomat.
The list contains a number of so-called “formers,” officials who are no longer in office, and Italy wanted their names removed but ran into opposition from other countries. Making changes to the list requires unanimity.
As a result, Italy said that if no names were being cut, then no names could be added, said another diplomat.
The name that was scheduled to be added to the list was a senator from Crimea, Olga Leonidovna Timofeeva.
Italian diplomats refused to comment.
When the two parties that make up the Italian coalition — the anti establishment 5 Stars and the far-right League — formed the government in May they signed a contract calling for the lifting of Russian sanctions, although it dropped a call for this to take place “immediately” from earlier previous versions. The contract says Russia is not “a military threat” and is a possible partner rather than an “enemy” of Europe.